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Payment limit increases...

Ag appropriations benefits Delta rice Several key legislative priorities of the USA Rice Federation have been addressed through the passage of the 2001 agricultural appropriations act, the commodity group says.

"The payment limitation increase from $75,000 to $150,0 00 in marketing loan gains and loan deficiency payments will immediately benefit family farmers, especially the medium- and larger-sized multi-crop family-owned operations in the Mid-South," says Gary Sebree, chairman of the U.S. Rice Producers' Group.

The agricultural appropriations act contains several other provisions that benefit the U.S. rice industry, with some targeted specifically for Mid-South producers.

The recently enacted provisions include: disaster relief for south Louisiana rice growers who were prevented from planting a crop this year because of drought-related salt-water intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico; and a $75,000 increase in the budget allocation for the Dale Bumpers Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark. Also included in the agricultural appropriations legislation are Market Access Program funding of $90 million, with at least $2.5 million anticipated for rice promotion; and PL 480 program funding for titles I and II of $1.02 billion.

"It is truly gratifying that the rice industry has been able to work together in the federation to gain much-needed funding in these areas, especially now, when rice producers and millers alike are experiencing the impact of several years of low prices," says Sebree.

According to the USA Rice Federation, trade sanction reform measures that will allow U.S. rice exports to Cuba for the first time in 40 years are also included in the law. "This is a good first step toward trade with Cuba, but it's far from the way we normally conduct business with our other trading partners," says David E. Van Oss, chairman of USA Rice.

"The travel restrictions in the law are also a step in the wrong direction," he says. "During the next Congress, we must urgently press for legislation that will facilitate trade by removing the restrictions on travel, financing and licensing that have been put into place."

Cuba currently imports about 350,000 metric tons of rice from U.S. competitors each year, the commodity group says. U.S. rice is expected to be very competitive in the Cuban market due to quality as well as freight and transportation advantages. Some industry experts estimate the Cuban market for U.S. rice has the potential to grow as high as 600,000 metric tons annually.

THE MISSISSIPPI State Extension Service will hold a waste pesticide disposal program Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sunflower County Maintenance Barn in Drew, Miss.

The program, which is free to farmers and others with waste pesticides, is accepting insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other pesticide products. Empty containers or other chemical products will not be accepted.

"If you have pesticides that can no longer be used, you should make every effort to take advantage of this free service," says Don Respess, area Extension agent in Cleveland, Miss. "This is a one-day event only and to take part you must bring waste pesticides to the collection site at the designated times. No other collection programs are scheduled at this time, so this may be farmers' only chance to safely dispose of these products free of charge."

Before transporting waste pesticides to the program site, it is recommended that farmers wear protective clothing, check for weak pesticide containers, handle containers carefully, and have spill control materials on hand in case of an accident. All pesticide loads should be covered in case of rainy weather.

Farmers should also insure that waste pesticides are transported safely to the collection site. Any weak chemical drums or containers should be securely repacked. According to the Extension Service, packing materials and overpack drums for waste pesticides are available free of charge through local county Extension offices.

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