Last week I sent a letter to President Bush, the United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting an immediate response to the halting of U.S. trucks carrying long grain rice into Mexico. It has been reported that the Mexican government has prevented trucks from entering the country unless the rice has been certified as free from genetically modified LL Rice 601.

These barriers could cost Arkansas rice producers billions of dollars in lost exports and Arkansas cannot afford to sit idly by while the international community continues to threaten the economic security of our producers by blocking rice imports.

I am calling on President Bush to impose immediate sanctions if these countries do not lift their phony barriers on U.S. long grain rice. The FDA and the USDA both concluded there are no human health, food safety, or environmental concerns associated with this GE rice.

Arkansas accounts for 45% of all rice production in the United States making it the leading producer of rice in the country. It is also ranks fourth in cotton, and is in the top ten for soybean production.

As a lifelong farmer, I know that making a living off the land is hard work. Barriers like these from Mexico will only hurt Arkansas farmers, and I will continue to do all I can to ensure our farmers get the help they need to stay competitive in the global market.