USDA's $90 million Market Access Program and the $1 billion Section 416 food donation program are reportedly on the hit list by the Bush administration for potential cuts in the fiscal year 2002 federal budget. MAP is the largest component (approximately $2.5 million) of USA Rice's export promotion program to create opportunities for increased export sales of U.S. rough, brown, milled, and parboiled rice. The Section 416 program has the potential to move the greatest amount of rice for government food donations this year.

The White House is looking for places to get money to fund their policy priorities, i.e., education, defense, and tax cuts. Cuts in either MAP or Section 416 programs could be serious for the U.S. rice industry.

As USA Rice predicted last month, the Bush administration is pulling back from using the 416 food aid donation program as aggressively as the previous administration. Whereas the Clinton administration used food aid to meet both humanitarian and foreign policy objectives, the Bush administration has stated their desire to focus solely on the humanitarian aspect.

USA Rice has already begun working with Congress to shore up early support for MAP. The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, of which USA Rice was a founding member several years ago, was successful in lobbying for legislation (H.R. 98) introduced by Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) in the House that both increases the MAP annual funding cap from $90 million to $200 million, and increases the minimum funding for the Foreign Market Development program to $35 million for fiscal year 2002.

For more information, contact John Mentis in the Washington office at (703) 351-8161 or johnm@usarice.com