- USA and China has signed a historic agreement to provide market access for United States rice exports.
- Food safety is a major issue for Chinese rice consumers.
- S. expects China to import 5.3 MMT of milled rice in 2017-18.
After over a decade of negotiation, USA and China has signed a historic agreement to provide market access for United States rice exports which could mean more business for local rice farmers. Even though the agreement is signed, the export of U.S. rice to China could be several months away. According to USA Rice, the global advocate for the U.S. rice industry, China consumes the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop every 13 days. Mr. Dustin Harrell with the LSU Ag Center expects local millers and shippers to make sure they comply with the requirements of the agreement. “The next step would be for Chinese inspectors to come down with USDA inspectors and inspect and certify some of the mills and shipping operations. And from that point we should gain access to that market,” disclosed Mr. Harrell.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Louisiana is the United States’ third-largest rice producer, trailing only Arkansas and California. The state produced 1.4 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of rice in 2016 on 420,821 acres. The crop, after value-added activities, was worth $407.2 million. Louisiana already exports well over 60 percent of the rice it produces. The U.S. is projected to produce 6.9 MMT of rice in 2017-18. Food safety is a major issue for Chinese rice consumers. Polluted water has made some rice crops overseas unsafe to eat, but now with the United States exported rice, consumers will know that their food will be high quality and safe to eat. This export agreement has been a long time coming but the local economy will soon see a boost from this new untapped market. Louisiana’s exports of rough rice, including shipments originated in other inland states and exported through New Orleans were valued at $444 million in 2016, while milled rice exports were valued at $252 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
USA Rice Chairman, Mr. Brian King revealed, “The agreement is a tremendous leap towards selling U.S. rice in China and caps a decade of effort by the rice industry and U.S. government to open access to the world’s largest rice importer.” The milled rice that China wants will help replace a void left by Iraq, once one of the biggest markets for long-grain rice, he said. China opened its rice market when the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, but U.S. rice was barred from the market because the two countries lacked a protocol to protect against the introduction of certain pests into China. The department expects China to import 5.3 MMT of milled rice in 2017-18.