Fresh off yesterday’s story of US rice farmers being “furious” that Iraqis are buying their rice from other countries now that the US occupation is over, twelve members of Congress have fired off a letter to Iraq’s Trade Minister pressing for him to get Iraqis back on the American long-grain variety.
Rep. Ted Poe (R – TX), one of the Congressmen in question, said the Iraqis should be more grateful. “We liberated their country for one thing,” Poe insisted, adding that “we would think they would consider the United States in trade since we spent billions of dollars not only to liberate their country, but to rebuild their infrastructure.”
Interestingly, the Congressional letter makes a complaint seemingly opposite to the complaint made by American farmers yesterday. The farmers protested that Iraq’s Trade Ministry had lowered standards to the point where Uruguay and other nations suddenly had access to the market. The letter, by contrast, claims Iraq’s standards are “too high” and put American companies at a disadvantage by requiring them to bag up all the rice before they ship it out.
Iraq’s Trade Ministry has said that much of the shift is a function of the Iraqi public preferring Basmati rice, which the US doesn’t produce. There is no law keeping the US out of Iraq’s rice market, but American farmers simply aren’t growing the right kind of rice for the Iraqi dinner plate.