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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

January 22, 2014

Louisiana Rice Industry Annual Meeting Set for Jan. 28

The Louisiana Rice Council (LARC) and Louisiana Rice Growers Association (LARGA) will hold their joint annual membership meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the International Rice Festival Building.

The featured speaker will be Marvin Lehrer, USA Rice Federation senior advisor in Mexico and Cuba.

LARC President Clarence Berken and LARGA President John Owen will provide updates on their organization's activities. USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward will report on the Federation's activities and promotional achievements, and USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Reece Langley will review the status of Farm Bill reauthorization.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain will address issues of concern to the Louisiana rice industry.

"This meeting provides an annual report to rice farmers on programs funded by the Louisiana rice promotion checkoff as well as timely information on other important issues," said Owen, a rice farmer from Richland Parish. "I encourage all rice industry stakeholders to attend."

The meeting will be held at the International Rice Festival Building, 717 West Mill Street, Crowley, LA. The event will begin with a reception and a trade show devoted exclusively to rice-related equipment, technology, products and services at 4:30 p.m., followed by the business session, industry reports, dinner and the featured speaker. The program should conclude at 7:45 p.m.


Coburn Retirement Could Open Senate Door to Frank Lucas

The Associated Press is reporting that House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas could run for the Senate seat Tom Coburn will step down from due to his battle with cancer. Coburn's term was to end in 2016. Other Republicans were also named as potential candidates - including Representative Tom Cole. The primary for Coburn's seat will be held June 24th - with the general election occurring November 4th. Lucas is expected to give up his chairmanship of the Ag Committee at the end of the year under Republican rules. However - if Congress doesn't pass a farm bill - he plans to ask the leadership to reappoint him.


Panama Canal Authority Says Dispute Won't Disrupt Expansion Progress

The design-construction consortium responsible for the bulk of the Panama Canal expansion is at odds with the Panama Canal Authority. The consortium is looking for more money to cover cost overruns on the project. The contractor has threatened to stop its work - but the Panama Canal Authority says it would be protected and has the funds and financing to continue the work on its own to ensure the project is completed. The two parties could also end up before a dispute board and then in arbitration if an agreement on the cost differences isn't reached. But according to the Canal expansion website - the entire Panama Canal expansion project was 72-percent complete at the end of 2013. Design and construction of the third set of locks was 66-percent complete. And no matter how this dispute turns out - the Panama Canal Authority doesn't anticipate any delays. That would mean completion by mid-2015 - followed by a series of tests and finally opening to traffic in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The Panama Canal Authority did reach out to the U.S. Grains Council about the dispute with the contractor recently. The Council will continue monitoring the situation. According to the Council - the project will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal thanks to the third set of locks - which will double capacity and allow Post-Panamax vessels to transit through the Canal.

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