Members of Arkansas Delegation Push for Level Playing Field for Arkansas Rice
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) along with Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-01) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) joined colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to encourage Iraq to purchase more American produced rice.
The letter asks for diplomatic assistance to improve trade relations with the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB) because of the decreased purchases of American produced rice. In recent years, the IGB has bought rice from other nations over lower cost American rice. The letter asserts that the IGB has not indicated that American rice is deficient in quality, grade or price.
Arkansas leads the nation in rice production. Rice is the top agricultural export for the Natural State. Nationwide, rice production generates approximately $34 billion in economic activity annually, creating thousands of jobs in rural America.
“We recognize Iraq’s prerogative to make these types of decisions, but it serves no purpose to discriminate against competitively-priced U.S. rice in favor of rice produced elsewhere. As an example, on November 6, 2014, the Iraqi Grain Board announced its intent to purchase 170,000 metric tons (mt) of rice. The IGB purchased 80,000 mt from Thailand, 60,000 from Uruguay, and 30,000 from Brazil. No rice was purchased from the United States, despite offers of U.S. rice that were of similar quality but nearly $24 per mt below the prices from competitors from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Iraqi authorities have provided no explanation for this type of decision,” the letter states.
The IGB is expected to begin accepting bids on a new tender to buy 30,000 metric tons of rice soon.
The letter was also signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Purdue (R-Ga.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Members of the House of Representatives signing the letter include Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Charles Boustany (R-La.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), John Fleming (R-La.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Randy Weber (R-Texas).