The Agriculture Department’s World Agricultural Outlook Board left its June production forecast unchanged from May’s 199 million hundredweight despite the extensive rains and flooding that occurred across northeast Arkansas and north Mississippi in May.

USDA did increase its import forecast from 13 million hundredweight to 14.5 million, primarily due to increases in purchases for Puerto Rico from Australia and China, according to the USA Rice Federation. It also raised the import figure for the last marketing year from 13 million to 14 million hundredweight.

The June forecast also puts U.S. rice exports at 88 million hundredweight, up 2 million from May, primarily due to a projected increase in rough rice shipments.

“At 36 million hundredweight, 2003/04 rough rice exports are up 3 million from a month ago, but down 8 million hundredweight from the revised estimates for the record 2002/03 exports of 44 million,” the Federation said.

USDA is projecting combined milled and brown rice at 52 million hundredweight. That’s 1 million hundredweight below the May estimates and 21 million below the revised forecast for 2002/03.

Long-grain exports could total 64 million hundredweight, 1 million less than the May forecast and 28 million hundredweight below the revised 2002/03 numbers. Medium and short grain rice exports are expected to reach 24 million hundredweight, 3 million more than last month’s estimates and 1 million below May’s.

Ending stocks are forecast to rise slightly from last month’s 22.1 million to 22.6 million hundredweight due to the increase in imports not being totally offset by increased exports.

USDA raised its season-average farm price range from last month’s $5 to $5.50 to $5.25 to $5.75 per hundredweight. That would be more than a dollar above last year’s estimated season –average price of $4.15 per hundredweight.

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