Thanks to a coordinated effort between rice farmers and members of Congress, federal funding for the ARS Rice Research program in Beaumont, Texas, was reinstated this week during a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee. Last week, the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee restored the $1,554,839 that had been targeted for elimination under the president's 2007 budget. This is good news for rice farmers and affiliated industries throughout the southern rice production area.

Ray Stoesser, president of the Texas Rice Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Rice Producers Association, was pleased with the news. While applauding the efforts of several members of Congress, Stoesser pointed out the support from congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). “From day one congressman Poe has understood the importance of agriculture and he deserves full credit for his efforts in getting this vital funding restored to a research facility that has a strong track record of accomplishments.”

Since its creation in 1909, the research center at Beaumont has been served well by the strong partnership between Texas A&M University, USDA-ARS, and the U.S. rice industry. The reduction of funding would have had a serious negative impact on the viability of the rice industry and rural economy in the Gulf Coast rice-growing region. Congressman Poe realized the situation stating, “If we do not support our agricultural sector particularly in the area of research then we are not preparing ourselves and the nation's food supply for the future. I believe that agriculture is a strategic aspect of our national security and we must give our farmers all of the necessary tools to continue to produce an affordable and safe food supply for the country and the world.”

The U.S. Rice Producers Association would also like to thank Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Henry Bonilla for working to restore this important funding. Dwight Roberts, USRPA CEO, said that “We look forward to continuing to work with congressman Poe, chairman Bonilla, and other members to protect this important research priority for rice producers and the rice industry.”