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Louisiana rice groups meet to hear updates

Louisiana rice farmers apprised of plan to address the problem of saltwater entering irrigation ditches. Sabine River water sale raises concerns. Attempts to sell U.S. rice to China continue.  

Louisiana rice farmers have been apprised of a plan to address the problem of saltwater entering irrigation ditches.

Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, told the Jan. 25 joint meeting of the Louisiana Rice Council and the Louisiana Rice Growers Association at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station that he will be meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get federal help with surface water management.

“We need a better system where all the locks work together.”

Strain said a coastal barrier against Gulf of Mexico saltwater no longer exists.

He is also concerned that the Sabine River Authority is proposing to sell water to Texas that would reduce the flow in the Sabine River by 10 percent. “That water belongs to everybody.”

Strain said the LSU AgCenter is being forced to cut research and Extension programs, which ultimately hurts the agricultural economy in the state. “We need to find a permanent funding solution for the AgCenter.”

Strain is also planning a trip to China to help sell American rice.

Betsy Ward, president of the USA Rice Federation, told the gathering that formal complaints will be made in response to unfair trade practices by Thailand and Brazil for increasing their rice subsidies. She said rice exports to Mexico, the top buyer of American rice, were at a record high last year.

Reece Langley,  USA Rice vice president for governmental affairs, said a meeting will be held in Chicago that will address the wide range between futures  rice prices on the Chicago Board of Trade and the cash prices that farmers receive when they sell their crop.

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