The future of the U.S. Rice Producers Association

“To have a unified, producer organization from all the rice producing states. We want an organization of producers that speak from the farm level. It’s not that we won’t recognize the mills or their importance. But in many cases, their politics are different from our politics and a lot of times producers don’t realize that oft times, the best interests of a rice mill is not the best interests of a rice producer.”

On farmers’ propensity to overproduce.

“The only thing a farmer can do is grow as much as he can as cheaply as he can. You might design some ag policy around that, but when you get down to the individual level, that’s all he can do, because he has absolutely no control over the price.

“The flip side of over-production is under-production. Under-production would make us rely on other countries for food and if there was severe under-production, they’d feed their own and worry about us later. This country is totally unprepared and totally unfamiliar with food shortages. It’s always there and there’s always plenty of it.”

Sanctions and embargoes

“Sanctions are very frustrating for the American farmer. It seems like we are at times pawns of the State Department. It’s almost like they trump us at every turn. But I think they’re somewhat misguided about what they’re trying to accomplish. One of the cornerstones of Freedom to Farm was that the government would do everything it could to open up trade for the American farmer. I’m disappointed in a lot of the efforts it’s made to do that.

“We can understand not trading under the enemy nation status, if a government becomes a military threat. But when every other country in the world is trading with a country 90 miles away from us, it seems odd that we stand alone in trying to form some agenda that’s not realistic.”

Free trade

“It’s a constant struggle and fight. We have to press for more administration and adherence to the trading rules in the WTO and compliance. There are many trade distorting practices that are somewhat hidden. Some countries subsidize fertilizer so it can be sold cheaply to producers. These have to be investigated and fully understood.”

Research

“We need to be very deliberate in our research efforts. Our greatest advantages is our understanding and use of technology and modern farming methods and productivity. We are unquestioned world leader in productivity. The only way we can maintain that is through continued research and the use of all the technologies available to us.”

Genetically enhanced crops

“There is a lot of anxiety and misplaced fears about GMOs. We are at the tip of iceberg with it. If we let sound science replace hysteria, then there are many wonderful opportunities through GMOs for farmers and consumers.

Profitability

“Everybody should be making as efficient a crop as possible. There’s only a certain amount of hunkering down you can do. You can cut your personal lifestyle back to a degree, but as far as your farming operation, you can only skinny so much. It takes a certain amount of capital and investment to produce.

“The outlook on commodity prices for the short term is not good. And that’s one reason why the rice industry is trying to implement this counter cyclical approach. “

The role of government.

That farmers need subsidies because other countries are being subsidized, “is only part of it. Stabilization is a very under-appreciated word. Having a stable agriculture is absolutely to the benefit of the American consumer. We don’t need wild swings in prices or be dependent upon foreign countries. I was concerned when they removed that word from the name of the government agency (when the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service became the Farm Service Agency).”