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Jul 18, 2014 7:24 PM by Ashlea Bullington

Fall in Rice Prices are Cutting Farmers

Rice is one of Louisiana's biggest exports, with farmers harvesting close to 400,000 acres a year. But supply is up across the country and that's causing problems for Acadiana farmers.

Louisiana farmers produce rice on nearly 400,000 acres of land each year. The rice industry has an estimated value of more than 300 million dollars and it accounts for thousands of jobs.

But Arkansas is the leading producer of rice. This season, farmers planted 500,000 extra acres of long grain rice in addition to the one million they usually plant. 94 percent of Louisiana's rice production is long grain rice.

"The mills can only afford to pay us what they can afford to pay us for our rice, based on what they can sell it for. With the new farmers bill, the direct payments we receive have been cut. That's about a $2.50 to $3 a barrel drop in income on the direct payments we are not going to receive. Plus another $2.50 to $3 on the market. So, it is going to be a really tough year with the income we receive to make ends meet," said rice farmer Dane Hebert.

Across the state, rice is produced in 29 parishes, including all of Acadiana. Growers in all areas say they will be taking a hit this growing season.

Andrew Granger with the LSU Ag Center says the market is down. Granger says there are two markets for rice, medium and long grain. Farmers are now being encouraged to capture the medium grain this next season.

"We are going to be telling them early next year when they are making those planning decisions, maybe look at a medium grain and capture some of the premium for that medium grain being offered," said Granger.

But until then, the money loss is still stressful for farmers, especially considering equipment and seeding prices are still the same.



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