USDA's August projection for relatively high U.S. rice yields is sure to again frustrate the U.S. rice industry.

In July, rice leaders expressed concern over USDA's prognostications for rice yields that many felt were not achievable. The industry expected significantly lower numbers for rice yields in August, USDA's first survey-based estimate of the year, due to the lateness of the crop and other factors.

However, USDA's August report projected a 2008-09 U.S. rice crop of 204.9 million hundredweight, nearly unchanged from its July projection. Average yield was forecast at 7,116 pounds per acre, down only 5 pounds per acre from July, and a decrease of 69 pounds per acre from last year's record.

Area harvested is unchanged from a month ago.

Long-grain production is forecast at 154.1 million hundredweight, nearly unchanged from July, while combined medium-grain and short-grain production is forecast at 50.8 million hundredweight, nearly the same as July.

USDA projects rice imports for 2008-09 at a record 24 million hundredweight, up 500,000 hundredweight from July.

Exports for 2008-09 are projected at 110 million hundredweight, up 3 million hundredweight from July and an increase of 4 million hundredweight from last year.

Exports of long-grain rice are up 3.5 million hundredweight from July while exports of combined medium-grain and short-grain rice are down 500,000 hundredweight. Combined milled-rice and brown-rice exports were raised 4 million hundredweight (rough equivalent basis) while rough rice exports were lowered 1 million.

The increase in supplies, along with the carryover of record-large outstanding sales from 2007-08, will lead to larger exports in 2008-09, USDA says. Projected domestic and residual use of rice for 2008-09 is unchanged from a month ago.

Ending stocks are projected at 22.5 million hundredweight, 4 percent above July, but 24 percent below last year. The season-average farm price range for all rice in 2008-09 was lowered $1.30 per hundredweight on each end to $15 to $16 per hundredweight. The lower U.S. price forecast is due to some expected softening in global prices.

The long-grain season average farm price range for 2008-09 is projected at $14.30 to $15.30 per hundredweight compared to $12.40 per hundredweight in 2007-08.