Rice producers can start signing up next week for $250 million in special payments Congress provided to shore up grower income after lackluster returns in 2022. 

USDA's Farm Service Agency will start sending pre-filled applications to producers starting Monday. The payments will be based on 2022 acreage that farmers planted to rice or were prevented from planting. Applications must be returned by July 10.

The funding was included in the fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill. Rice growers largely missed out on the strong market prices than many other producers saw in 2022. Cash receipts on rice fell from $3.6 million in 2021 to $3.3 million in 2022, adjusted for inflation, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service

FSA will make an initial payment to producers at a rate of one cent per pound. A second payment of up to a penny per pound will be issued later based on the availability of funds. 

Payments will be capped at $250,000 for producers who get at least 75% of their adjusted gross income from agriculture. Other producers will be limited to $125,000.  

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Providing rice growers with pre-filled applications “will result in significant time savings for both farmers and USDA employees, helping to ensure the swift delivery of program benefits to producers and further our goal of better serving farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Arkansas GOP Sen. John Boozman, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who is the ranking member of Senate Agriculture said the payments are intended to compensate growers for soaring input costs that “hit rice producers extremely hard.”