The inaugural meeting of the House of Representatives’ Rice Caucus was held on Wednesday. The mission of the Rice Caucus is to educate House members and the general public about the role rice plays in the economy.

“The American rice industry contributes over $34 billion to our economy annually and supports over 120,000 jobs. My Arkansas district is also the leading rice producing district in the country,” said Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, caucus co-chair. “Rice is a unique industry, which faces its own set of challenges and opportunities. With a new farm bill being written next year, I wanted to gather together representatives from other rice-producing districts to ensure the long-term viability of rice growing in America.”

"American-grown rice is known throughout the world for its high quality, and is a major US export, even to other rice-producing nations," said California Rep. Dennis Cardoza, caucus co-chair. "Rice is also an important part of California's agriculture economy. When we draft the new farm bill, I will work diligently to promote the interests of our rice farmers so they can continue to grow affordable, healthy rice to feed our nation and the world."

Another member of the caucus, Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, said “the rice industry is a key component of the agricultural economy of south Louisiana and I am pleased to join the Rice Caucus. Rice is the most widely-consumed commodity in the world and American producers are vital to supplying the world. South Louisiana is a premier rice-growing area and I will use my charter membership on the Rice Caucus to educate other members of Congress on the rice industry.  This resource will aid in sharing information and organizing a group of members to be attentive to issues confronting rice growers, millers, seed companies, equipment manufacturers and other companies involved in the rice industry.”

Jackie Loewer, a rice farmer in Louisiana’s Acadia Parish and Chairman of the Board for the USA Rice Federation, said “it is important for the rice industry to have strong advocates on Capitol Hill and we are fortunate to have the support of Congressman Boustany and the leaders of the Congressional Rice Caucus. The (caucus) will bring together members of Congress in their effort to support the rice industry.”

The Rice Caucus has 16 members and plans to be involved in rice-related topics including trade and environmental regulations. The industry is affected by a number of challenges while supporting more than 128,000 jobs and contributing more than $34 billion of economic activity.

Besides Crawford, Cardoza and Boustany, caucus members include: California Rep. Dan Lungren, Texas Rep. Ted Poe, Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, Louisiana Bill Cassidy, Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin, California Rep. Doris Matsui, Mississippi Rep. Alan Nunnelee, California Rep. Wally Herger, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Texas Rep. Pete Olson, Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, California Rep. Tom McClintock, and Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander.