The USA Rice Federation was shocked by news that rice had been excluded from the United States — South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concluded April 2 in Seoul.

“USA Rice is clearly disappointed with the news we received today,” said USA Rice Federation Chairman Al Montna, a California rice producer.

“While we appreciate and applaud the diligent efforts by USTR Susan Schwab, Ambassador Richard Crowder, and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on behalf of U.S. rice, the fact is U.S. rice farmers and marketers have been excluded from one of the most significant bilateral trade agreements in over a decade,” Montna said. “This exclusion will encourage other potential free trade partners to expect similar treatment. This is the message we will be delivering to Capitol Hill,” he said.

“Today’s action is a clear example of the importance of the farm safety net for U.S. agriculture,” said Paul Combs, Missouri rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Producers’ Group Board of Directors.

“Arguments about the need for reform in farm programs ring hollow when rice producers are denied the market access benefits of a supposed free trade agreement.”