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Rice farmers say USDA/FSA discrepancy undermines confidence

USDA statisticians claim some 2 percent of farmers don't certify their acres through FSA. Thus the reason for USDA estimating total U.S. rice acreage at 3.11 million versus FSA's acreage count of just under 3 million.

That claim, some farmers say, is absurd and further erodes their confidence in USDA's rice numbers.

Why? Look at a scenario involving a man farming 250 acres of rice.

The farmer is allowed around $23,000 in a government transition payment. That means his 250 acres of rice will max out the transition payment.

If he doesn't sign up with FSA, he gets no payment at all. But the last two years, farmers have gotten not one, but two payments. The average total per farmer/entity for the last two years has been $45,000 annually.

The LDP on rice currently is about $1.40 per bushel. If the farmer produces 250 acres of rice and comes up with a conservative yield of 120 bushels, he'll end up with 30,000 bushels. Multiply that times $1.40 and the farmer is due $42,000.

Add the $45,000 to that and the farmer potentially leaves $87,000 on the table if he doesn't certify his acres.

"You find me one farmer who hasn't signed up. How insane is that? We've been trading for the last two years under loan," says a market observer.

"The Arkansas Statistical Service called me the week before last and asked how many acres of rice I planted. I said, `Why are you asking me? All you have to do is get the numbers from FSA,'" says a farmer from east central Arkansas.

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