Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, House Agriculture Committee Chairman, addressed rice industry members during the opening general session of the USA Rice Federation Government Affairs Conference.

Lucas highlighted the efforts of the past Congress, which included enacting an extension of the farm bill to provide certainty to producers, blocking regulations that hurt family farmers, passing trade agreements to promote agricultural exports and putting in place a permanent tax code.

Lucas told the attendees that this was a new Congress and new opportunity to pass a five-year farm bill. “My driving principles for a successful farm bill have not changed. We must have one that works for all commodities in all regions. And, we must have a unified voice in the agriculture community to get it done.”

The Government Affairs Conference provides rice industry members an opportunity to meet with their lawmakers to discuss key issues and priorities. Producers and other industry members from the six major rice-growing states of Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas participate in the event.

In addition to meetings with rice-state lawmakers, USA Rice members and staff meet with key staff members at various departments and agencies, including the USDA, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We thank Chairman Lucas for the positive message he brought to us. We strongly support his principles that a successful farm bill must work for all commodities in all regions and that agriculture must have a unified voice to get it done,” said Linda Raun, a rice producer from El Campo, Texas, and chair of the USA Rice Producers’ Group. “We appreciate him and his staff for all their dedicated work and look forward to working with them in this Congress.”

USA Rice Chairman Mark Denman added, “As our rice industry members meet with legislators and regulatory officials we hope to convey an understanding that what’s good for the farm is good for America’s economy.” Denman is chief operating officer of the consumer division for RiceTec Inc., based in Alvin, Texas, near Houston.