Arkansas Growers Want to Sell Rice to Iraq

January 28, 2004 - Posted at 10:01 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR -  To once again sell rice to Iraq, the rice industry wants the government's help in forgiving $4 million in debt owed by Iraq.

Iraq had been a vital market for U.S. rice.  Sales to Iraq averaged 345,000 metric tons in the 1980's.  The industry lost the Iraq market because of U.S. economic sanctions that came with the first Iraq war.

The issue, along with reducing trade barriers between the U.S. and Central America, were key topics at the annual meetings of rice trade groups in Brinkley this month.

$3 million of Iraq's debt is from loans backed by The U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Rice officials want Congress to step in and forgive that debt so trade can resume.