Farmers furious after Iraq stops buying US rice

By Ramit Plushnick-masti

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 23 2012 1:20 a.m. MST

Full rice bins sit under a cloudy sky on Ray Stoesser's Dayton, Texas property Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. In the past month Iraq decided to no longer buy rice from U.S. farmers, dumping yet another problem on farmers already struggling with drought, excessive heat, rising production costs and dropping global prices.

Pat Sullivan, Associated Press

DAYTON, Texas — U.S. rice farmers are fuming over a decision by Iraq to stop buying American rice. Instead it is buying cheaper grains from elsewhere.

Iraq's decision comes as farmers struggle with rising production costs, dropping prices and a shrinking export market. Crops have also been harmed by drought and unusual heat.

Rice farmer Ray Stoesser says Iraq should "pay a premium" for U.S. rice "because this is the country that freed them."

An Iraqi official says the country will be buying cheaper basmati rice from India because it is widely accepted. He declined to comment on the farmers' anger.

Iraq imports most of its rice. In the past decade, about 10 percent to 15 percent of total imports came from the United States. Iraq hasn't bought any U.S. rice since 2010.

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