HOUSTON, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The unloading of a second vessel of Louisiana rough rice in Mexico's Port of Veracruz last week marks a shift in the battle against low prices. Rice farmers throughout Louisiana have been trapped between rising input costs and lower demand for milled rice, and the ability to sell rough rice into the largest market for U.S. rice has been a critical factor. Loaded in the new IFG facility in the Port of Lake Charles, some 45 farmer-shareholders participated in the direct sale to a major rice mill in Mexico.
An initiative taken on by a group of grass-roots farmers known as the Louisiana Independent Rice Producers Association (LIRPA) and the South Louisiana Rail Facility has brought positive attention to the region in coffee shops throughout the rice growing region and all the way to Washington, D.C. Working together with the US Rice Producers Association, these Louisiana farmers are doing more than just farming rice.
"We realized that markets are constantly changing and our inability to access the rough rice export market forced us to look at any and all alternatives," according to Glenden Marceaux, President of LIRPA, adding "the mere presence of the rough rice loading rail facility and the new IFG grain terminal in the Port of Lake Charles supports improved prices for our rice."
The first vessel sent in October 2015 and the second one in February 2016 carried 20,000 tons each. The October shipments involved 41 area rice farmers. Additional shipments are planned.
"Farmers tell me this is the first time in recent memory that they are headed to the fields to plant a new crop with their storage bins basically empty," says Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the US Rice Producers Association. "I didn't realize how important this is for farmers, so it's obvious that even if a Louisiana rice farmer did not sell rice on these vessels, he certainly benefited from the price levels in the market that these sales caused," added Roberts.
The sales come at a much needed time due to depressed prices, lack of milled rice exports, failure of Congress to open the Cuban market and the disappointment of the U.S. rice industry to win any of the recent Iraq tender.
The US Rice Producers Association, representing rice producers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, is the only national rice producers' organization comprised by producers, elected by producers and representing producers in all six rice-producing states.
SOURCE US Rice Producers Association