WELSH, La. – U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany praised the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station for its innovations that could make U.S. products more competitive.
Boustany, 7th District congressman from Lafayette, made his remarks at a farm day forum Monday (Feb. 8) to get input from agricultural producers about their needs.
Boustany said the research station is working on a number of projects – including disease-resistant rice and rice that has increased protein – that make the station a leader in rice research.
The station also developed an aromatic variety of rice, Jazzman, to compete with Thai Jasmine rice.
“Those are the kinds of things in the agricultural industry that will go a long way to make our products more competitive,” Boustany said.
Boustany said efforts to open trade with Cuba are proceeding in Congress. He cited a bill that proposes to lift a travel ban on American tourists to the Caribbean nation, followed by elimination of a U.S. requirement that banks in other nations handle payments of trade goods.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance of passing that this year,” he said.
The proposal has bipartisan support, and it is backed by President Obama.
The congressman said free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea need to be finalized. Products from Panama and Colombia are being imported into the United States duty-free, but American exporters don’t have the same arrangement in those two nations, he said.
He said the Obama administration has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next 5 years.
Boustany said Louisiana’s exports handled through the World Trade Center in New Orleans totaled $42 billion in 2008.
Some nations that produce rice have had to import rice to cover shortfalls in production, he said. That works to the benefit of Louisiana farmers.
“We have a competitive advantage with rice, and we ought to take advantage of it,” Boustany said.
He also said a feasibility study is being done to determine what projects should be undertaken to reduce hurricane damage along the southwest Louisiana coastline.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture