Rice prices in the United States are at their lowest level in more than 15 years, the result of weak global prices and a second consecutive year of record supplies at home, says USDA in its October 2002 Agricultural Outlook.

Despite a bearish price outlook and expectations of a huge carryover, U.S. rice producers cut plantings just 3 percent in 2002. At planting, most producers estimated returns to rice production to be higher than for alternative plantings.

The projected 2002/03 (August-July) U.S. season-average farm price of $3.50 to $4 per hundredweight is down from $4.17 a year earlier and the lowest since 1986/87.

U.S. rice exports in 2002/03 are projected to be strong, up 3 percent from 2001/02, due in part to expanding global rice trade since 2000.