Volume 18, Issue 03
January 22, 2021
In This Issue:
  • Biden Administration Establishing USDA Leadership
  • Rice Market Update
  • Positive Reviews for Western Rice Belt's Virtual Conference
Biden Administration Establishing USDA Leadership
On Wednesday, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. As expected, one of his first actions was a regulatory freeze (See reg freeze memo)

The Administration is moving quickly to fill slots, and USRPA joined with other agricultural organizations in support of President Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture nominee, Tom Vilsack, in this letter to Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman. There were over 120 signatories from a robust cross-section of federal and state food and agriculture associations who joined in signing the letter. 

President Biden has also nominated Virginia Ag Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh to be the next deputy secretary of agriculture, the second-highest position at USDA usually in charge of day-to-day operations. Bronaugh, who has run the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services since 2018, served as Virginia state director for USDA's Farm Service Agency during the Obama administration, starting in 2015. Bronaugh also has a doctorate in career and technical education from Virginia Tech and spent time as the dean of the College of Agriculture for Virginia State University, where she oversaw extension, research, and educational programming. Other appointments included individuals who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C. staff list in addition to the announcement of three Deputy Under Secretaries in the Areas of Nutrition, Rural Development and Marketing and Regulatory Programs USDA undersecretaries
Action on the Senate side of Capitol Hill is still largely dominated by the organization of the new 50-50 Congress along with impeachment. Rumors indicate that articles of impeachment could arrive as early as this week, with much concern about the effect that would have on the Biden Administration's initiatives. Chair Stabenow is interested in reauthorizing children’s nutrition programs (which has lapsed) as a priority and then moving to climate change. Reports indicate that Stabenow wants agriculture and forestry to be leaders on climate policy employing voluntary, producer-led initiatives that create carbon markets for producers. In addition, there are rumors that the Committee will have a hearing on Secretary Vilsack’s nomination at the end of next week or the following week, however, most believe that is an ambitious schedule that will not be met, especially with the impeachment pending.
Rice Market Update
The rice market continues firm as a result of a 13% reduction in carryover stocks in the January WASDE report at 26.3 million cwts. Demand from paddy buyers in Mexico and Central America is expected to grow. There are always reasons for the market to go up and down. 

Buyers in Mexico, Central America, and several South American markets cannot ignore the severe drought conditions in the Mercosur rice region. While the harvest is just getting underway in Paraguay and the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina it is obvious there will be a significant overall reduction in production. 

Will Brazil need to import U.S. rice again as they did in late 2020? Will the new administration in Washington D.C. enhance the effort for Iraq to buy U.S. rice? The high prices of soybeans and corn are the result of the Mercosur drought as well so will we see a shift downward in rice acres in the Mississippi River Delta? 

There is no rice in farmers' hands in South Louisiana and maybe 2.5 million cwts in Texas with bids expected to ease upwards. Farmers are working ground as they prepare to plant new crop rice in 30-40 days.  
Positive Reviews for Virtual Western Rice Belt Conference
This week the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center in collaboration with the Texas Rice Council, hosted the first virtual Western Rice Belt Production Conference. The conference had 146 unique views and attendees logged on from all across Texas, and even gained some international viewers from Mexico, Uruguay and even Pakistan!

Presentations included:
  • Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan – Basics of Herbicide Resistance Development in Weeds
  • Dr. Ted Wilson – Rice Varieties & Current Breeding Programs
  • Dr. Mo Way – Insect Management
  • Melissa Barton – TDA Pesticide Laws & Regulations Update
  • Joe Outlaw – Cost of Rice Production
  • Dr. Thomas Wynn – Rice Market Outlook
  • Dr. Michele Reba – Rice Water Efficiency

Attendees also heard from Tommy Turner, retired rice farmer, about projects that the Texas Rice Council and US Rice Producers Association are taking on that have helped rice farmers in Texas and throughout the US market and sell their rice.

Sponsors and other organizers, including Galen Franz, Chairman of the Texas Rice Research Foundation, Tim Walker from Horizon Ag, Dennis Neuman with Ducks Unlimited and the USA Rice Federation were also featured during the conference.

Finally, Bob Little and Dr. Mo Way, were both recognized for their contributions in their many years serving the Texas rice industry. Attendees sent messages of appreciation and congratulations to both gentlemen and we will surely be missing them but wish them the best in their retirement!

While attendees miss the in-person meetings for the camaraderie and networking, comments were overwhelmingly positive:
  • “I thought the virtual program went quite well. It was easier to follow the presenter and slides. Look forward to being able to review the presentations at a later time. But I do like the traditional face to face meeting better.”
  • “Enjoyed the program very much. Best wishes to everyone and stay healthy.’
The conference will continue to be available On-Demand for the rest of the month.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2021 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C.

Katharine Ferguson was named Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary. Most recently, Ferguson served as Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. Before joining the Aspen Institute, Ferguson served in the Obama Administration as Chief of Staff for the White House Domestic Policy Council and as Chief of Staff for Rural Development at USDA. Ferguson also worked on the Senate Agriculture Committee and as staff to several U.S. Senators. Other work experience has focused on topics ranging from racial equity, community economic development, conservation, food and agriculture, public health and nutrition. Originally from Colorado, she is a graduate of Tufts University and holds an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Upcoming Events
February 10, 2021
Virtual NCS Cotton & Rice Conference

February 18-19, 2021
97th Agricultural Outlook Forum!

February 23, 2021
MRRMC Annual Meeting in Dexter, Missouri
Details Coming Soon
Legislative Update
Trade Update 
Trade Update 
Provisia Rice Enabling Farmers to Return to Drill Seeding
On November 24, 2020, Mexican phytosanitary authorities announced a long-term authorization for imports of Uruguayan rice into Mexico.
Pakistan exported around 3.8 MMT of rice during MY (November-October) 2019/20. The Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan has filed an application against India’s bid to obtain exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) tag for basmati rice in the European Union (EU).

Osiriz/InterRice Monthly Report

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