History was made this week when an agreement permitting US rice exports to China was signed during bi-lateral trade meetings held in Washington DC. An inspection of US rice mills and packaging facilities by the Chinese phytosanitary authorities is the next step to take place. The first exports to China will take several months but will provide a boost to new crop sales.
The U.S. Rice Producers Association (USRPA) said the process began in 2006 when they applied for funding under the Department’s Emerging Markets Program. The grant from USDA allowed USRPA to travel to China and determine that in fact there was a market for U.S. rice. They conducted additional consumer sampling and research, accompanied Chinese food inspection officials on a tour of U.S. rice farms and mills, and hosted large supermarket buyers in the US all leading up to this agreement.
Greg Yielding, director of emerging markets at USRPA, was the man behind these grants and the boots on the ground in China. He was able to show that Chinese consumers did want to buy U.S. rice. He guesses we could see exports heading to China before the end of the year.
“China could eat the entire U.S. rice crop in about 12 days with our current acreage. With this, we could be the number three or four exporter in the world. It’s really unknown but the skies the limit on how much rice we could sell. This is huge for rice producing states and for exports,” Yielding said.
Listen to my complete interview with Greg here: Interview with Greg Yielding, U.S. Rice Producers Association