Volume 17, Issue 15
April 16, 2020
In This Issue:
  • USDA Helps Rural Communities Affected by COVID-19
  • Washington DC Update
  • Market Update - Growers Concerned About New Crop Pricing
  • Dr. Mo Way Recognized with Distinguished Service Award
USDA Helps Rural Communities Affected by COVID-19
Yesterday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement regarding the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program:
“The SBA has processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. The Paycheck Protection Program is saving millions of jobs and helping America’s small businesses make it through this challenging time. The EIDL program is also providing much-needed relief to people and businesses.
“By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations. 

While the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals until new funding has been approved, the USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.


  • Rural Housing Service
  • Rural Utilities Service
  • Rural Business-Cooperative Service

USDA is also extending the application window for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service Program.
Washington DC Update
Today USDA Secretary Perdue outlined the latest COVID-19 response program which was initiated by funding provided in the CARES Act. The CARES Act provided for “an additional amount of $9,500,000,000, to remain available until expended, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers”. To this $9.5 billion amount the Secretary has included additional CCC spending so that the first tranche will be $16-18 billion total. This will include direct payments and commodity purchases in all sectors (cattle, livestock, cow/calf, hogs, produce, specialty, commodities, dairy, horticulture). The $2-3 billion purchasing program will be focused on taking dislocated food out of the supply chain that had been going to food service institutions and move it to food banks and non-profits.  The full details of the program will be released asap.

On another front, the Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has announced a temporary final rule to change certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment.

Under this temporary final rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labor certification who is concerned that workers will be unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the United States immediately after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition. To take advantage of this time-limited change in regulatory requirements, the H-2A worker seeking to change employers must already be in the United States and in valid H-2A status.

Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to allow H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the continued lawful employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agricultural workers during the COVID-19 national emergency.

The temporary final rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. If the new petition is approved, the H-2A worker will be able to stay in the United States for a period of time not to exceed the validity period of the Temporary Labor Certification. DHS will issue a new temporary final rule in the Federal Register to amend the termination date of these new procedures in the event DHS determines that circumstances demonstrate a continued need for the temporary changes to the H-2A regulations.
Market Update - Growers Concerned About New Crop Pricing
As the world continues to adapt to the circumstances of the coronavirus, the rice market has seen very little change of note since the last report. The export sales reporting has continued to show low volumes of sales, which given the thin inventory of old crop left to move is not terribly surprising. Export tonnage has continued to proceed apace with expectations as old sales are shipped to end users overseas. This should continue until either old sales are exhausted or new crop arrives. 

Asian pricing has begun to stabilize as those benchmark origins prepare to relax some of the quarantine restrictions that have been imposed over the past month. Of note is the stated intention of India to begin the process of resuming its exports overseas. This will add some softness to other origins by taking the pressure off of the market at this time. Exchange rate risk remains a factor in the international marketplace, particularly given the wide swings that have been noted between major currencies since the crisis began. USDA has elevated its world market price estimate for the week on stronger international factors as well. 

Domestically, the cash markets are very quiet for both old and new crop. New crop planting is well under way across the South and with favorable weather conditions, is starting off the year in a generally good place. Growers remain concerned about new crop pricing in all of the major commodities, but with the recent spike in rice demand, rice looks to be better positioned than many of its fellow crops for stronger prices. 

The futures market has reflected some of this momentum in in the new crop pricing. New crop is slowly appreciating while the old crop contracts on the board noted some minor softness as the pressure to acquire rice for immediate use is lessened. Old crop contracts ended the week on a down note with losses in the 1.3% range while new crop contracts saw modest gains of around 0.3% for the week. Open interest on Thursday was higher than a week ago, while the average daily volume for the week was modestly smaller.
Dr. M.O. "Mo" Way Recognized with Distinguished Service Award
A very special congratulations are in order to Dr. Michael Orrin Way for being recognized with the Distinguished Service Award at the 2020 Rice Technical Working Group Conference held at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama in February.

Known as “Mo” to rice farmers and the rice scientific community, Dr. Way has worked tirelessly on behalf of the U.S. rice industry for the past 40 years. His accomplishments go far beyond his research as a renowned entomologist and the numerous successful studies and projects conducted over the years. His work in many different rice-producing countries have contributed to his “rock star” international reputation that includes a trip for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1991 to North Korea to advise the country on how to deal with a newly introduced pest of rice – the rice water weevil which is native to the southeastern United States.

Mo has played an instrumental role in so many rice production issues, too many to list. Texas rice farmers and other states have benefited greatly since Mo joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Beaumont in 1982 when he was hired to develop Integrated Pest Management programs for rice and soybeans.

On behalf of the US Rice Producers Association we sincerely send our congratulations to Mo for an award well deserved and we thank him for always giving us his undivided attention and help. And this is why we always say, “there’s no way but Mo’s way”!
Upcoming Events
June 30, 2020
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Rice Field Day
David R. Wintermann Rice Research Station, FM 202 just north of Eagle Lake, Texas. Field tour in late afternoon, then move to the Eagle Lake Community Center for dinner and a business meeting. More details to come.

July 1, 2020
H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station Annual Field Day
Crowley, Louisiana. Tours early in the morning, followed by presentations inside. Check back later for more information.

July 9, 2020
73rd Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Rice Field Day
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1509 Aggie Drive in Beaumont, Texas. More details to come.

July 23, 2020
University of Arkansas Row Crops Field Day
Rohwer Research Station
140 Experiment Station Loop, Watson, Arkansas – check back later for more information.

August 5, 2020
University of Arkansas Row Crops Field Day
Northeast Research & Extension Center
1241 W. County Road 780, Keiser, Arkansas – check back later for more information.

August 7, 2020
University of Arkansas Rice Field Day
Rice Research & Extension Center, Stuttgart, Arkansas – check back later for more information.
The government of China recently announced several grain policy changes to meet increasing feed demand and confront the global spread of COVID-19. China’s 2020/21 feed and residual use in total are forecast to increase 8.1 million tons, a four percent increase over 2019/20. Overall feed demand is expected to recover to the 2017/18 level at around 212.7 million tons, as the hog feed loss due to African Swine Fever is offset by strong poultry and ruminant expansion along with a swine and poultry restocking boom following the COVID-19 epidemic.
Indonesia’s wheat imports are expected to decline in 2019/20 due to weaker demand as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rebounding to 10.95 million tons in 2020/21. Continuing challenges in managing Fall Army Worm are impacting corn yields and expected to decrease production to 11.9 million tons in 2019/20. Harvested area and production for milled rice are revised to reflect new crop production data published by the National Statistics Agency. 
Prices for major Brazilian row crops, including soybeans, corn, rice, and wheat, all hit record highs in nominal value in recent weeks. The main reason for the domestic price increase is a steep devaluation of the Brazilian real (BRL). While the BRL has been steadily weakening over the past few years, economic turmoil driven by the coronavirus pandemic has worsened the trend in 2020. As a result, despite the deteriorating economic outlook on the whole, Brazilian grain and oilseed producers are having arguably their most profitable season to date.
World Rice Prices under COVID-19 Pressure
In March, world rice prices saw sharp increases directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. Importing countries are assessing their current stock levels and trying to settle new contracts to avoid potential tensions in domestic markets.
Food and Agriculture Regulatory and Policy Roundup
Arkansas Rice Update
The 4th Arkansas Rice Update of 2020 is available below.

25722 Kingsland Blvd.
Suite 203
Katy, TX 77494
p. (713) 974-7423
f. (713) 974-7696
e. info@usriceproducers.com
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