USA Rice, State Rice Groups Join Farm Bill Budget Request to Congress

  • ARLINGTON, VA – USA Rice and all seven state rice organizations joined 400 other farm and agricultural groups in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Budget Committees on Tuesday calling for additional funding for Congress to write the 2023 Farm Bill.

    The USA Rice Farmers, the leading national organization representing rice farmers in all rice producing states, adopted policy this past December in favor of additional Farm Bill resources. Particular areas where funding is needed are the commodity title to improve the farm safety net and the trade title to increase funding for critical international promotion programs.

    “USA Rice strongly supports additional funding for the Farm Bill as Congress begins its work on the 2023 Farm Bill,” said Curtis Berry, a Mississippi rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Farmers.  “Having an adequate farm safety net in the Price Loss Coverage program is the key priority for USA Rice and the additional Farm Bill funding would be instrumental to ensuring the program’s improvement.”

  • Underreporting of Rice Exports Cause for Concern


     Rice being loaded onto a rail car at Southern Louisiana Rail Facility
    ARLINGTON, VA -- In a recent meeting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USA Rice members heard an update on export sales reporting - a federal requirement for exporters of specific commodities, including rice.  On a weekly basis, exporters are mandated to report any contract for export sales entered into or subsequently modified during the reporting period.   For rice, the reporting period is the seven-day period ending at midnight on Thursday.  Reported information includes type, class, and quantity of the product, the marketing year of shipment, and the destination, if known.  Reports are due by noon each Monday and can be submitted online, faxed, or mailed.   Reporting export sales is not optional.  It is mandated by law and exporters who fail to report can be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for up to a year. “It was very concerning to hear the magnitude of underreporting in many of our top export markets,” said Betsy Ward, president & CEO of USA Rice.  “When comparing data from USDA’s export sales with U.S. Census Bureau Trade data, underreporting of as much as 50 percent is occurring in some countries.  The primary destinations where we see reporting problems are Mexico, where there is a 75 percent difference in reporting, Canada where there is a 60 percent difference in reporting, and several Central American countries, which range from 48 - 78 percent.” “As an export dependent industry that relies on accurate data from USDA, it is critical that reporting is done correctly and on time,” said Bobby Hanks, president of Louisiana Rice Mill and chairman of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee. This message will be reiterated during business meetings at the 2017 USA Rice Outlook Conference that starts this coming weekend.
  • Round Table Discussion with USA Rice Chairman Brian King


    Oct 27, 2017
    King (2nd from right) holds court
    ARLINGTON, VA - In town for the latest USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee meeting, USA Rice Chairman Brian King, a rice merchant with Erwin Keith, Inc., met with USA Rice staff to talk about industry priorities and give some background on the important role merchants play in the U.S. rice industry.   "Everyone's aware stemming imports is a top priority for our industry," said King.  "This is an issue that has to be approached from many different angles.  On the domestic side, working with the industry to improve quality, and with consumers and the foodservice sector to speed acceptance and increase consumption of U.S.-grown rice.  And on the international side, staying vigilant when it comes to enforcement and finding inroads into new markets around the world.  We rely on USA Rice to keep our industry in play in all these areas."   King has more than 24 years of rice and grain marketing experience and has been active in various merchant groups since 2002.   "When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force in 1994, and the U.S. started exporting paddy rice in a big way to Mexico, a new business model was created, including the need for the merchant sector," King explained.  "Today Mexico is our largest export market and Canada is our fourth, but we facilitate rice shipments all over the world and we're always looking for new markets."   King continued, "Merchants are really into logistics.  Moving product is our business whether by truck, barge, or rail.  We fulfill a 12-month need for that product and provide a market outlet for thousands of farmers in all six rice-producing states."   King also praised USA Rice for filling a valuable forum and education component.   "The annual USA Rice Outlook Conference continues to grow and is extremely valuable for all sectors of the industry," he said.  "This meeting, and others throughout the year that USA Rice sponsors and attends, bring us all together providing excellent opportunities for us to learn from each other.  We are stronger as an industry for those efforts and interactions."   "I really appreciate Brian taking the time to talk with our staff about his business and how he thinks USA Rice can best serve the industry," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "He is well versed on our issues having graduated from The Rice Leadership Development Program, serving on the board of the USA Rice Merchants' Association and numerous other USA Rice committees, and as current chair of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere Subcommittee.  He's been great to work with as chairman because of his vast knowledgeable and experience and his generosity with both."
  • USA Rice Retail Partnerships Result in Strong Consumer Outreach


    Sep 20, 2017
    All the rice news that fits
     Image of USA Rice NRM Retail Dietitian Newsletter
    ARLINGTON, VA -- In support of National Rice Month (NRM), USA Rice is working with retail dietitians to remind shoppers to Think Rice before, during, and after their shopping experience.  By providing quality U.S. rice focused content to retail dietitians that can be incorporated into supermarket activities and communications, the partnerships have already yielded more than 10.3 million consumer impressions just halfway through the month. “With ninety-five percent of stores employing dietitians at the corporate, regional, and store levels, it was imperative that USA Rice partner with, and supply content for, these dietitians as they developed nutrition programs to help consumers make healthy food choices, while supporting retail grocery sales,” said Paul Galvani, chairman of the USA Rice Retail Subcommittee.  Retail dietitians from six grocery store chains have participated in the National Rice Month campaign, including Big Y, Coborn’s, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Pyramid Foods, Redner’s, and Weis.  “The results of these partnerships speak for themselves,” said Galvani.  “With more than 10 million impressions by the midpoint of National Rice Month, we know our message is being received by consumers. In addition to printed and digital efforts by the dieticians, other unique U.S. rice focused planned promotions include Coborn’s Wednesday Lunch and Learn featuring National Rice Month, in combination with National Family Meals Month, and Price Cutter’s, a division of Pyramid Foods, “Getting Fancy with USA Rice” Food Demonstration. In addition to the impressions stemming from supermarket outreach, coverage from local news and other organizations have also garnered 754,351 impressions as of mid-month.  Galvani concluded, “With almost half a month left of planned partner promotions, we are excited to see the final outreach and retail sales figures.  USA Rice’s NRM retail dietician program continues to be a success in promoting U.S. rice awareness and consumption, while helping shoppers make healthy food choices.”
  • US rice heading to China

  • The USA isn't one of the world's top ten rice growers, but it still produces twenty rice varieties across three million acres of land. Photo credit - Pixabay.   After long negotiations, China has agreed to the import of rice from the USA.   China is both the world's largest consumer and producer of rice.  However, growing domestic demand has led to a rise in imports. Perhaps unsurprisingly, China is also the world's largest importer of the staple. The USA, meanwhile, isn't one of the world's top ten rice growers, but it still produces twenty rice varieties across three million acres of land.  US rice cultivation is particularly prominent in the states of Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, and the country accounts for around two percent of annual global rice output. It will need to compete with China's current suppliers, including Pakistan and Thailand, to win Chinese orders. Initially, the USA plans to export around four million tonnes of rice to China - just a fraction of the latter country's five billion tonnes of annual imports. Nevertheless, after ten years of negotiations, the news has been warmly received. US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said that the Chinese market '...represents an exceptional opportunity today, with enormous potential for growth in the future.'
  • Excellent prospects for U.S. medium grain, wild rice in Turkey despite market challenges

  • Despite market challenges, that include competition from domestic Turkish rice and third country suppliers, concerns over cross-contamination of GMO-free rice on barges shipping GM corn and soybeans, and the alleged presence of white-tipped nematodes, prospects for commercial sales of U.S. medium grain rice to Turkey remain very positive.

    USA Rice was in Turkey last week and met with millers, traders, packers, and food service distributors to assess market prospects for U.S. medium grain rice and to discuss possible promotional activities for U.S. wild rice, a product gaining increasing popularity in the Turkish market. Despite market challenges, that include competition from domestic Turkish rice and third country suppliers, concerns over cross-contamination of GMO-free rice on barges shipping GM corn and soybeans, and the alleged presence of white-tipped nematodes, prospects for commercial sales of U.S. medium grain rice to Turkey remain very positive. “The message we consistently heard all week was the strong preference Turkish consumers have for U.S.-grown medium grain rice, mainly due to superior cooking characteristics, and because it makes a perfect pilaf preferred by Turkish palates,” Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice vice president international, said. “However, to ensure that our rice reaches those consumers unabated we must redouble our efforts to service Turkish importers and to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Turkish authorities to address any remaining technical issues.” The delegation also met with a major Turkish food service partner to encourage further growth in Turkish consumption and awareness of U.S.-grown wild rice. Wild rice has been gaining in popularity with the high-end consumer segment in Turkey due to a successful USA Rice promotional campaign here. USA Rice also co-hosted a seminar with PAKDER, a Turkish association representing nearly 50 major rice packers and traders, and staff briefed seminar attendees on the current U.S. rice supply and demand situation, including crop status in the south and California. PAKDER Secretary General Melahat Ozkan gave a brief on a new packaging law that establishes hefty penalties for blending different rice varieties. The law could be a positive development for retail sales of U.S.-grown rice, as it will require clear identification of variety and country-of-origin on rice packages. The event touted wild rice, as well as wild rice mixes with U.S. white rice, as a means to increase the value of foodservice meals. At dinner, participants tasted different recipes prepared with both U.S. white and wild rice. “Seminars in this $30 million market where we get to communicate directly with the trade are invaluable,” Maginnis said. “We count on opportunities like this to maintain that positive momentum.”
  • EPA Staff Experiences Rice Country Firsthand


    Jul 06, 2017
    Rice 101 on the Zaunbrechner farm
    CROWLEY, LA – Last week USA Rice and the Louisiana Rice Growers Association (LARGA) hosted six staff members from across the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs to experience rice growing and milling firsthand here in Louisiana.   USA Rice arranged a similar tour of the Mid-South in 2006 and it served to educate EPA staff and as a bridge building exercise between the regulatory agency and the rice industry.  With changes in staff at EPA over the years, USA Rice decided it was time to bring new personnel out to inform them of key pesticide issues facing rice growers across the Mid-South. “For all of the EPA staff that attended the tour, rice touches their portfolio in some way,” said Dr. Steve Linscombe of the LSU Ag Center and member of the USA Rice Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee.  “Whether it’s having a rice pesticide in their portfolio or doing analysis on the uniqueness of rice compared to other row crops, each participant was able to learn something about rice that will help them better assess rice pesticides.”   Stops on the tour included a production rice farm to learn about common pests and diseases, a crawfish operation to see the relationship between crawfish and rice production, a rice mill to hear about issues with stored grain pests, a flying service that covers Louisiana rice country to discuss aerial application, and a second rice farm to observe a tail water recovery system in action.   “They also had plenty of opportunity to interact with all parts of the rice industry at two field days and several grower dinners,” said Paul Johnson, a rice farmer and current LARGA vice chair.  “We made sure they got their share of gumbo and jambalaya to go along with all the knowledge they took home.  And we would like to thank the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and all those who joined us last week for the tour and opened up their homes and businesses to our EPA guests.”
  • USA Rice monitors chaos in Venezuela

  • Regardless of its dire finances and rampant food shortages, Venezuela is a large importer of U.S. rice. Last year, they brought in nearly 300,000 MT of U.S. rice and likely even more, as several other countries import U.S. rice and re-export it to Venezuela.

    Venezuela, one of the world’s most oil-rich countries has become one of the poorest and most dysfunctional over the last few years. It is a nation in crisis. Over 90 percent of their export earnings are derived from petrochemicals, the price of which has plummeted over the last several years. The low price of oil brings into question how much longer the Petrocaribe Agreement, an oil alliance between Venezuela and several Caribbean states, can last and with it, Venezuela’s influence in the Caribbean and Latin America. Regardless of its dire finances and rampant food shortages, Venezuela is a large importer of U.S. rice. Last year, they brought in nearly 300,000 MT of U.S. rice and likely even more, as several other countries import U.S. rice and re-export it to Venezuela. “A collapse of the state in Venezuela is worrisome not only from a humanitarian stance but also for the rice industry, as nearly 10 percent of our exports end up there,” Brian King, USA Rice chairman and chairman of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere promotion subcommittee, said. “This week, President Maduro called for an assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution; things could spiral out of control quickly.” While USA Rice does not conduct activities in Venezuela, it’s an important market that we monitor. USA Rice works closely with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service posted in Caracas, discussing ideas such as the potential for eventual food aid shipments.
  • Mexico Market Share on the Upswing


    Jun 05, 2017
    Popular restaurants make the U.S. rice choice
    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- U.S. rice exports to Mexico in the first four months of 2017 are up an impressive 23 percent over last year, bringing the U.S. market share to 93 percent, the highest since 2013.  According to official Government of Mexico (GOM) sources, total U.S. rice exports to Mexico were 354,000 MT while third country exports were down nearly 60 percent, at 25,000 MT.   The surge in U.S. paddy exports to Mexico is partly being driven by exports of Mexican milled rice to Venezuela, however there is also an increase in the consumption of U.S. rice in Mexico.   Over the past 15 years, rice consumption has grown 43 percent while the population has only grown 22 percent.   “While the per capita consumption is still relatively low at 16 pounds annually, it’s increasing each year and we expect that trend to continue,” says Gaby Carbajal, USA Rice’s promotion director in Mexico. Competition for U.S. rice comes from both the Latin American region and Asia.   “Uruguay maintains a market segment of ‘quality’ here, but Asia is a somewhat mixed bag,” said Marvin Lehrer, USA Rice’s market consultant for Mexico.  “There are reports from the market of growing concern and consumer pushback from the stickiness and smell of rice from Viet Nam.  The U.S. benefits from unparalleled food safety standards and a reliable product, which is what customers here are looking for.” Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. rice in both volume and value, and USA Rice conducts nearly 300 promotional activities here each year, ranging from trade shows to consumer seminars.  Recently, USA Rice teamed up with a popular chain, Grupo Los Canarios and their 11 restaurants, to promote the U.S. rice-based dishes.
  • U.S. Rice on the Menu in Japan


    Hey pardner, tried the chicken and rice?
    Magnificent Seven bar scene
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Earlier this week, USA Rice conducted a one-on-one taste-testing presentation for Cowboy Kazoku (Cowboy Family) of Royal Holdings Company, one of the major foodservice companies operating family restaurants and fast food chains in Japan.   After tasting 10 menu items prepared using U.S. medium grain rice, Royal Holdings was persuaded to use U.S. medium grain at Cowboy Family, their family style restaurant where staff members wear bandanas and cowboy hats, and the restaurant is staged to make customers feel as if they were invited to a party at a rancher’s home.   “We first made contact with Royal Holdings at FABEX in April where USA Rice hosted a preview taste-testing session for them,” said Jim Guinn, director of USA Rice Asia Promotion Programs.  “The Cowboy Family chain has 36 restaurants and, as a major buyer of U.S. products including rice and beef is a close partner of the Agricultural Trade Office in the U.S. Embassy here.” During June, another Japanese foodservice chain called Origin Dining, a “fast, casual” restaurant, will be offering a Thai chicken and rice dish, “Khao Man Kai,” prepared with U.S. Calrose rice.  According to a recent press release, Origin Dining said they chose to use Calrose because it is better suited for this type of dish. “Interest continues to grow in both foodservice and retail sectors in Japan for U.S. rice due to a number of factors, including versatility and price,” said Guinn.  “It seems Japan’s domestic rice policy which incentivizes production of super premium table rice and rice for livestock feed is pushing the country’s foodservice industry to look to imports for their needs.”
  • U.S. rice prices could be headed higher in 2017-18

  • Flexible irrigation pipe carries water to bays in rice field in Mississippi U.S. and world rice supplies are tightening, leading to the possibility of higher rice prices in 2017-18, economist notes. U.S. rice producers could see higher prices for their 2017 crops – and it’s not mainly because of the losses due to the flooding that occurred in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana and California in late April and early May. The die was already cast for lower rice supplies – and, thus, potentially higher U.S. prices – before unusually heavy rains in central Missouri caused rivers to leave their banks and flood nearly 200,000 acres in the northern Arkansas rice belt. “The long-grain rice price forecast is up about $1 per hundredweight – around $9.70 to $10.70,” says Nathan Childs, who follows the U.S. and world rice markets for USDA’s Economic Research Service in Washington. “This is based on without factoring in the flooding that occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.” Dr. Childs, an agricultural economist with the USDA-ERS, was one of the speakers for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Rice Outlook Webinar on May 25. (To view Dr. Childs’ presentation, click on “You can see prices have been dropping, dropping for a while,” said Dr. Childs, referring to a chart showing season-average prices for long and medium grain rice going back to the 1990s. “But now we’re beginning to see tighter supplies in this country and in some other parts of the world.” No shortage of rice That doesn’t mean there will be shortages of rice anytime soon. Although global rice production is expected to decline 250,000 tons to 481.5 million tons on a milled basis, 2017-18 global rice supplies are projected to be a record 599.9 million tons, which would be up 2.6 million tons from 2016-17. “I look at the all rice ending stocks, and, as I said earlier, we came off three years of abnormally high global ending stocks with high stocks-to-use ratios of 24 percent to 25 percent,” he said. “That’s too high.” The stocks-to-use has come down and is projected to fall below 20 percent in the 2017-18 marketing year. “We have a lot of rice,” said Dr. Childs. “Historically, we've said around 13 or 14 percent was a more desirable long-term stocks-to-use ratio.” The U.S. crop was already forecast to be down about 10 percent on a metric-ton basis in 2017 before the flooding began having an impact in the Mid-South, including the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, and in California. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service was forecasting U.S. rice plantings would be down 17 percent in its March 31 Planting Intentions Report. (The forecast was for 2.63 million acres with most of the decline in the South and a slight decrease in California. Arkansas and Mississippi producers indicated the biggest declines.) Prices in decline “Prices at planting this year, say in March, were declining so U.S. long-grain rough prices were declining,” said Dr. Childs. “They have been rising in the last few weeks because weather is a big factor, but they were declining.”  In contrast, prices for soybeans, the main alternative crop in the Delta, were rising at the time. “And in March, the U.S. carryout for the 2016-17 rice crop was the highest in more than 30 years. Now it's not as high now. We've dropped it a little.” Meanwhile, total supplies are still projected the second highest on record. “So when farmers were looking at 2017-18 they saw declining long-grain prices, big carryout, big supplies but not record and higher prices for alternative crops.” The weather and uncertainty in portions of the U.S. Rice Belt have altered that outlook somewhat, but the U.S. still faces record supplies in the rest of the world where it exports about half its rice crop. Dr. Childs reviewed the situation in a number of rice-producing countries. “Egypt, not a huge producer but a major exporter of medium-grain rice, is down about 17 percent due to contraction of area, tight water supplies, more restrictions on area and also alternative crops that are more profitable,” he said. Normal yield for India India could be down 500,000 tons, which sounds like a lot but is actually closer to a normal yield for that country. “Although it should be down about a half million tons, it's still a bumper crop,” Dr. Childs said.  South Korea will be down in area and yield. “Area has been dropping in South Korea for well over two decades,” he said. In other countries where supplies may be down:
    • Madagascar is having bad weather – drought in one region, flooding in another, so the crop will be down.
    • Japan down with continued area decline that's probably been occurring more than 30 years.
    • Indonesia down slightly on smaller area but not much.
    • Brazil, the crop is projected down but the area is expected slightly higher. “They will have a better second crop and some pastureland might go to more rice,” he said. “We view a more normal yield than last year's yield, which was abnormally high.”
    • Burma down a little. A normal yield with no change in area.
    • Cuba, drought, weather problems in the Caribbean, down around 63,000 tons or a decrease of almost 15 percent.
    Looking at areas with increases in production, Sri Lanka is expected to see recovery of lost yield. “It's a record crop in Sri Lanka, big recovery,” said Dr. Childs. “It had drought and flooding last year. One crop was impacted badly by drought and the other by flooding but Sri Lanka bounces back by 950,000 tons or 40.4 percent.” Thailand is recovering from severe drought, which is helping restore Thailand to its position as the world's No. 1 or 2 exporting country and a large producer. Production is forecast to be up 900,000 tons or 4.8 percent. China production up slightly China’s production is up by 150,000 tons, a record, but by a small amount. “That's a minor increase,” he said. “It looks like a lot. But China is the largest grower in the world. It's just a tiny increase; more due to rounding.” Paraguay’s crop is a record. “Paraguay has tripled production in the last three years,” said Dr. Childs. “Ten years ago I would not list Paraguay's production. But it's up 141,000 tons or 28 percent. It had a poor crop last year, but it's been on a decade-long expansion, and all of the expansion virtually is going into exports.” Guyana’s crop is projected up 23 percent to a record. Guyana has also made tremendous increases in the last few years in production and pushing its exports out.
    Colombia’s crop is recovering somewhat; Bangladesh’s will be a record, due to higher yields; Pakistan’s will be up a slight amount; and Cote d'Ivoire production is up. “Cote d'Ivoire is like Paraguay,” he said. “It's virtually tripled production in the last decade or less. We’re seeing lots of increases in production.” Dr. Childs said Latin America remains the largest regional market for U.S. rice by far with Mexico accounting for a large portion of those sales. Mexico now purchases more than 800,000 tons of U.S. rice annually. Low-growth area for U.S. “Actually I would not see much growth in Latin America simply because we're extremely high right now in what we sell them now,” Dr. Childs noted. “We’re doing very well in sales to Mexico. It will remain the top market for U.S. rice.” Dr. Childs confirmed that China is expected to export rice, much of it to Northeast Asia and some low quality rice into Africa. They ship some to North Korea and Japan, most of it medium-grain. In response to questions from Bobby Coats, professor of economics with the University of Arkansas, and the moderator of the webinar, Dr. Childs said Iraq remains an “erratic” buyer of U.S. rice. (Dr. Coats also writes the weekly Market price considerations feature for “It's almost impossible to predict,” he said. “Several times this year it was thought that the U.S. was going to sell. When the U.S. sold, it wasn't necessarily predicted. It's just a very difficult market to predict. “I believe that they are certainly a price-conscious buyer. They are a big buyer, well over a million tons. The U.S. has sold almost none this year. Back in 2015-16, I believe, the U.S. was close to 150,000. It was a major buyer then. Since then, they have been virtually absent.”
  • Arizona Company Receives Federal Approval For Rice Herbicide

  • An herbicide widely used to grow rice in Asia will now be used by an Arizona grower, after receiving federal approval late last month. Keith Holmes is a product manager with Gowan Company in Yuma and said without weed control, crop loss can be 50-90 in a season. “What happens is, over time,  if you use the same way to kill the weeds, you select for weeds that are tolerant to that mode of action. And what has happened in California over the years is that one of the main modes of action no longer works,” Holmes said. The Environmental Protection Agency gave approval to Gowan Company to use its product, Butte, on rice in California. U.S. growers plant about 3 million acres of rice each year across only six states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. California is the only Western state to grow the crop.
  • Turkish Retailer Shares the Bill with USA Rice for Promotions


    May 26, 2017
    Curious crowd
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- A major Turkish retailer, Uyum Hypermarket, recently joined forces with USA Rice to promote U.S.-grown rice here with a cost-sharing marketing program.  The campaign, that included retail displays at one of their busiest hypermarkets, was conducted in the run up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, that this year begins today and ends on June 24. Rice consumption is very high during Ramadan because, though observers fast from sunrise until sunset, they gather with friends and family for a post-sunset meal, called an Iftar.  It is also common to have one meal, known as Suhoor, just before sunrise.  A wide variety of dishes, many of which are rice-based, are prepared for the Iftar. The five-day campaign to promote U.S. rice included outdoor and indoor billboards, where the hypermarkets paid 50 percent of the costs; giveaways that included aprons, consumer bags and hats, where the hypermarkets paid 30 percent of the costs; and retail display space, completely paid for by the hypermarkets.   Posters promoting the event and special announcements in the stores invited customers to taste healthy recipes made with U.S.-grown rice, presented by famous gourmet Elif Korkmazel.  Additionally, festive USA Rice booths were installed in the hypermarkets aimed at increasing visibility for U.S. rice, and educating consumers through taste events and distribution of recipes booklets and materials co-sponsored by participating U.S. rice brands.   Throughout the campaign, sales of U.S. rice at Uyum stores increased by an average of 700 percent and consumers received important messages about the versatility and cooking characteristics of U.S. rice. “We have very good acceptance here and Turkey is an important growth market for our industry,” said Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice Regional Director.  “I think it is particularly telling that the retailers paid for part of these promotions because it shows they not only like our products, but see value in our specific promotion program to help drive sales at their stores." Schmidt said cost sharing programs between USA Rice, local brands, and local retailers have been successful in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and now Turkey. “The success of these programs and the support from local businesses is undeniable,” he said. Last year, the U.S. exported about $31 million of U.S. rice to Turkey; in the first three months of 2017, $10.5 million of U.S. rice has already been shipped.
  • “Rice Day” Celebrated During Louisiana Legislative Session


    May 25, 2017
    BATON ROUGE, LA – Yesterday, Louisiana rice farmers and millers spent the day here celebrating "Louisiana Rice Day at the Capitol” to highlight the economic importance of the Louisiana rice industry to the state economy, and the environmental and cultural benefits to its citizens.   Louisiana Rice Growers Association President Michael Fruge told members of the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee that rice is grown in 31 parishes by more than 1,000 growers.  Fruge said he was “proud of the resilience of our rice growers in challenging economic times, especially in relation to the hardships associated with the 2016 and 2017 flooding that caused significant damage to Louisiana's rice crop.” Committee member, Representative John Stefanski, reminded fellow legislators, "The rice industry represents all of the small businesses in our rural community."  Stefanski also took a personal privilege to recognize the industry leadership in attendance when the entire Louisiana House of Representatives convened, including Fruge, Donald Berken, Kevin Berken, Jeff Durand, Richard Fontenot, Mark Frey, Steve Linscombe, Jackie Loewer, Jeffery Sylvester, and Robbie Trahan. The rice industry delegation also was recognized at both the Senate Health and Welfare, and the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committees, along with the Louisiana Rural Caucus.   Trahan, the CEO of Falcon Rice Mill in Crowley, spoke about the importance of the Louisiana rice milling industry as well as the impact that rice exports have on the economic health of Louisiana’s rural communities.  Representative Jeffery Hall, who represents an urban district in Alexandria, said, "You can live in the city but you can't live without the rural communities that feed us." Representative Terry Brown added, "If they don't have rice and gravy in heaven, then I don't want to go." The day ended with an acknowledgement from Senator Bret Allain, a fellow farmer from Jeanerette, who invited Senators from rice producing districts to recognize the Louisiana rice industry leaders amongst all of their peers.  Richard Fontenot said, "This was a great way to collectively thank our legislators not only for their support in the past but also our work together in the future." Each legislator received a one-pound bag of Louisiana rice donated by the Louisiana Rice Growers Association along with educational material about the Louisiana rice industry.
  • Exports to UK at Ten Year All-Time High

  • UK-Exports-Show-Largest-Jump-in-10-years,-Wanis LONDON, ENGLAND – The UK, the largest market for U.S. rice in the EU, has experienced an impressive 207 percent increase in all types of U.S. rice imports during the first 3 months of 2017 (over 10,000 MT valued at $5.4 million).  This has been driven by a staggering 5,877 percent increase in parboiled long grain rice imports and a 515 percent increase in long grain imports.   “Long a mainstay of ethnic markets here, we’re now seeing an overwhelming response from USA Rice promotions aimed at getting U.S. rice back onto mainstream UK retail shelves,” said Terry Harris, of Riceland Foods and chairman of the USA Rice Europe, Middle East, Africa Promotion Subcommittee.  “Following the initial success with retail promotions in 2014, we are seeing exports here increase significantly this year.” UK marketing activities have been further strengthened by a broader strategy encompassing ethnic wholesale and retail, a traditionally important market for U.S. long grain rice.  Key relationships have been forged in the Chinese and Afro-Caribbean sectors and, in 2016, a highly successful trading partnership began with Wanis, the UK’s leading Afro-Caribbean wholesaler. “Our focus, patience, and hard work has been rewarded and now U.S. rice is returning more broadly to the market,” added Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice Regional Director. “In addition to the retail and ethnic sectors, U.S. rice is also experiencing demand from the UK foodservice and manufacturing sectors.  A spokesperson for a leading UK manufacturer recently remarked that ‘the premium quality and consistency of US rice is seen as a benefit to both manufacturers and consumers alike,’” Schmidt said.
  • Iraq still in talks about buying 100,000 T U.S. rice -traders

  • May 19, 2017, 09:40:00 AM EDT By Reuters

     Shutterstock photo
    HAMBURG, May 19 (Reuters) - Iraq's state grains buyer
    remains in talks about buying around 100,000 tonnes of rice to
    be sourced from the United States, with no purchase yet made,
    European traders said on Friday.
        Offers were submitted on May 15 and must remain valid until
    May 21, they said. [nL8N1ID372]
        Traders said the trade ministry in Iraq, a major global
    buyer of wheat and rice, had sent out price inquiries to trading
    houses about buying the rice rather than issuing a formal
    international tender.
        Only two offers were made for nearby prompt shipment, they
        One U.S.-based multinational trading house offered $587 c&f
    for 100,000 tonnes and a Middle Eastern trading company offered
    40,000 to 60,000 at $595 a tonne c&f.
        "Iraq normally says a minimum of three offers should be made
    for grains and rice purchases so a cancellation is expected, but
    it is not clear if this is a formal tender," one European trader
    said. "The rather tight supplies of U.S. rice available for
    shipment up to the end of June make this sale anyway difficult
    for exporters."
        Iraq's cabinet authorised the trade ministry on May 9 to
    make direct purchases of wheat and rice to guarantee food
    security. [nL8N1IB6YY]
        Baghdad has been struggling to import grains and rice for
    its food subsidy programme after introducing new payment and
    quality terms which left trading houses unwilling to participate
    in its international tenders.
        Iraq told suppliers earlier this year it would pay for its
    grain in instalments. Traders said they were informed by Iraq's
    Grain Board that low oil prices and other financial factors were
    forcing the country to delay payments. [nL3N1H64NC]
    Read more:
  • Global Rice Markets are Distorted by Bad Actors, Contributing to U.S. Trade Deficits USA Rice Testifies at Commerce Department

  • Global Rice Markets are Distorted by Bad Actors, Contributing to U.S. Trade Deficits USA Rice Testifies at Commerce Department

    May 18, 2017
    USA Rice's Cummings (far right) delivers U.S. rice message on trade
    WASHINGTON, DC -- The Department of Commerce hosted a day-long hearing with witnesses from across the U.S. economy to examine reasons for bilateral deficits with 13 U.S. trading partners.  USA Rice, participating in the agriculture panel, explained that while the U.S. rice industry generates a $1.2 billion trade surplus, “a majority of the countries being examined, including China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Viet Nam intervene heavily in the rice market, and the result is restricted access for U.S. rice or unfair competition in foreign markets.” In his testimony, USA Rice Chief Operating Officer Bob Cummings further noted that “globally rice is one of the most heavily protected crops in terms of domestic support, border protection, and export controls,” and that, like nearly all of U.S. agriculture, export success hinges on good trade agreements. “Well-negotiated and enforced trade agreement are the key to helping the U.S. rice industry contribute to reducing bilateral trade deficits.  Where there are good, solid trade agreements, increased rice exports follow.  We need look no further than the Uruguay Round Agreements and establishment of the WTO, NAFTA, and the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement for evidence,” he said. Today’s hearing was in response to President Trump’s executive order of March 31 to the Secretary of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, and other trade agencies to prepare an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Barriers.  Canada, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Viet Nam were specifically being examined today.   Cummings said USA Rice and other agriculture groups have mounted a campaign to highlight the significant contributions agriculture makes to U.S. exports and remind the administration of the importance of a forward-looking trade policy that supports good trade agreements, strives to open new markets, and undertakes aggressive enforcement against trading partners that don’t live up to their international obligations.   “U.S. rice exports in isolation will not resolve the bilateral trade deficits identified by the administration.  However, action by the U.S. government to support exports from America’s highly efficient agricultural sector is an important part of the solution. To that end, existing trade agreements that are working well for agriculture should not be undone, and enforcement can and should be stepped up,” concluded Cummings.
  • U.S Rice Production Estimates Drastically Reduced

  • May 17, 2017

    Sobering production estimates
    WASHINGTON, DC – USA Rice’s World Market Price Subcommittee met here yesterday to review with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials USDA’s first projections of global rice supply and demand statistics for 2017/2018, including world rice stocks, area and production estimates for the United States, and to review developments in key export markets.  Severe flooding in the mid-south, in particular in Arkansas, the top rice producing state in the country, have forced the industry to drastically reduce estimates for the coming year. In March, government figures estimated 2017 rice acreage in the six major rice producing states to be 2.6 million acres, down 17 percent from the previous year.  Due to weather concerns including flooding in the mid-south, actual acreage could be significantly lower.  In fact, the University of Arkansas Extension Service has estimated more than 181,000 acres of rice planted in that state lost due to the flooding.  The next official estimate from USDA on rice area will be the Acreage Report to be released on June 30 by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Despite lowered domestic production estimates, global stocks are projected to increase slightly, largely on the back of Chinese rice production.   The U.S., that typically exports half the annual rice crop, is grappling with slow overall growth on exports.  Reported export sales through early May of medium grain rough, brown, and milled rice, primarily grown in California, are up 26 percent.  Long grain rough rice is up just seven percent, but long grain milled, including brown rice, which accounts for 25 percent of exports, is off as much as 13 percent. “That 13 percent reduction in long grain milled exports is equal to a little more than 121,000 metric tons, which could easily be mitigated by just one rice sale to Iraq – something we used to do quite a bit of,” said Keith Glover, chairman of the subcommittee who made the same point to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in another meeting yesterday.   Glover pointed out that despite a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of the United States and Iraq to purchase U.S.-grown rice, no sales have been made in more than a year. The industry continued to emphasize the importance of the monthly rough rice prices reporting by NASS, noting that success here is a combination of accurate reporting by the industry and comprehensive surveying by NASS of first handlers of dry rough rice. “USDA’s rough rice prices determine the level of PLC payments to our growers, so they have to be an accurate reflection of what’s going on in the market.  This will continue to be a focus with NASS at each of our meetings,” Glover said. The subcommittee also provided updates to USDA on USA Rice’s activities in Mexico, Iraq, and Taiwan, and received reports on the administration’s plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and prospects for U.S. milled rice access in China.   “Mexico is our number one market, and we were very clear that we want the administration to ‘do no harm’ in any NAFTA renegotiation,” said Carl Brothers of Riceland Foods, a member of the subcommittee.  “We also expressed our continued frustration with the failure to complete the opening of the China market to U.S. rice.” The next meeting of the subcommittee is slated for late October when harvest of this year’s crop will be underway and possibly even completed in some parts of the country.


    The nonpartisan U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council says the first shipment of U.S. rice to Cuba in nine years apparently passed unnoticed in the ongoing debate over trade with the island nation. Based in New York, the council, which produces monthly reports on commerce involving the countries, says the comparatively small cargo of 157.8 tonnes of parboiled rice, some mixed with grain, was worth $252,000 and sailed from the Houston area. According to the council, U.S. ag exports to Cuba totaled $232 million in 2016, up by 36% from $170.6 million in 2015. Frozen chicken meat accounted for 41% of sales in 2016; soybeans, soy oil, and soy meal were 28%; and corn was 16%. Since 2012, frozen chicken has been the number one purchase by Havana, although purchases plummeted to $78 million in 2015 during the bird flu epidemic. Sales rebounded to $95 million last year. The rice shipment occurred at the end of 2016, but it takes a while for exports to be tallied by the Census Bureau and made public. Far larger rice sales, with a cumulative value of nearly $191 million, were recorded from 2002 to 2008.
    U.S. farm groups have argued for a change in law to allow private financing of ag exports to Cuba. The sales were exempted from the overall U.S. trade embargo in 2000, but payment must be made in cash upon delivery. Some $5.3 billion in U.S. goods have been sold under the terms of the 2000 law. This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
  • USA Rice Promotes Medium Grain to Supermarket Chains in Japan


    2017 CGC-Exhibit-Japan
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Co-Operative Grocer Chain (CGC) Japan, a cooperative chain of 220 middle to small size supermarkets with more than 4,000 individual member stores nationwide, sponsored an exhibition last month to introduce their members to new food products and U.S. medium grain rice was one of the featured rice items.    “CGC actually developed an original bag for U.S. medium grain and recently started experimental sales at selected supermarkets,” said Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice vice president international.  “Their 5kg bag of U.S. medium grain features menu pictures designed to teach consumers that U.S. medium grain is actually a good table rice.” U.S. rice is gaining momentum in both the retail and foodservice markets in Japan.  “For instance, Costco Japan started stocking U.S. medium grain rice,” said Maginnis.   U.S. rice for commercial use in Japan enters through the restrictive Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS) system which makes it difficult to develop consistent, long-term marketing plans in Japan.  The SBS system is limited to no more than 100,000 MT annually from all origins. Maginnis concluded, “Further reforms would make it easier for Japanese consumers to access imported rice and would likely have a positive effect on demand for rice imports in both the retail and foodservice sectors in Japan.”
  • Food Aid Funding Fight in Future

  • May 09, 2017

    Vital food aid
    WASHINGTON, DC – The recently passed Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill included $2 billion for food aid programs that the U.S. rice industry supports, but signals from the Trump Administration indicate American humanitarian efforts may not exist in the future. The FY 2017 bill funded Food for Peace programs at $1.466 billion, including a one-time increase for famine crises of $134 million, and $202 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program for the remainder of FY 2017. Last month, USA Rice joined more than 90 agriculture and humanitarian organizations in sending a letter to House and Senate appropriators requesting they, at a minimum, maintain FY2016 funding levels and U.S. leadership in fighting against famine and global malnutrition. “According to the World Food Programme, 795 million people, or one in nine, are currently suffering from chronic hunger, while one in three suffer from malnutrition daily,” the letter read.  “Now is the time for America to continue our leadership role in the world by showing full support for Food for Peace, a program that has touched 3 billion lives…and the McGovern-Dole Feeding program which fosters knowledge through food.” Meanwhile President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint, ironically-called “The Skinny Budget,” actually zeros out the McGovern-Dole programs, and many expect Food for Peace to also come under fire from the Administration. “We are happy with the commitment shown by Congress, not only to our moral duty to help those in need, but to our farmers who grow the food vital for these aid programs,” said Blake Gerard a Missouri rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice Farmers.  “But it seems like we’re all going to have to work hard to demonstrate the value of these programs to President Trump.” Gerard said the rice industry especially wants to keep food aid programs going since they have worked so hard to create enriched rice that solves many malnutrition problems, is affordable, long-lasting, and accepted by those in need. “Rice is the most widely-used commodity in current food aid programs for a reason,” he said. “President Trump can score a win-win by continuing to help those in need, and using U.S. products to do it.”
  • U.S. Rice and NAFTA

  • Credit: USDA photo by Bob Nichols/CC BY 2.0    The NAFTA agreement series begins our focus on commodities, with a look at rice. In 2016, one in every eight rows of rice planted in the United States made its way to our NAFTA partners. But recent moves by the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada could lead to a change in the important Mexican and Canadian markets. 

    The Growth Story

    Prior to the NAFTA agreement, U.S. rice into Mexico faced bound (maximum allowable) tariffs of 9 percent on paddy rice and tariffs of 45 percent on husked, milled and broken rice. Under NAFTA, trade in all goods between the United States and Mexico became duty-free on January 1, 2008. As a result of an advantaged tariff situation, strong marketing efforts and a high-quality product, Mexico is now the single largest market for U.S. rice. In 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect, 9 percent of U.S. rice exports went to Mexico. By 2016, that share had grown to 21 percent. Prior to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement which was brought into force on January 1, 1989, and superseded by NAFTA, the U.S. faced tariffs on rice into Canada as well, though minimal. Canada’s bound tariffs on milled and broken rice were $3.53 per ton, while paddy and husked rice entered duty-free. Again, as a result of NAFTA, those rates were reduced to zero. Canada remains a fairly small market for U.S. rice, accounting for about 5 percent of all rice exports.

    Competition Lies in Wait

    Clearly, U.S. rice has a strong foothold in the Mexico market, but we must always remember that there are other exporters in the world ready to capture our markets if we falter. Currently, our competitors who do not have an FTA with Mexico still face significant applied tariff rates - 9 percent on paddy rice and 20 percent on husked, milled and broken rice. However, the Government of Mexico (GOM) has been experimenting with providing additional market access for non-FTA partners. For example, Vietnam received duty-free access to the Mexico market from 2008 through December 2014. Figure 2 highlights the impact of that additional access, especially in 2014. More recently, the GOM officially announced permits of up to 150,000 MT of rice (all types) originating from non-free trade agreement countries, opening the door for Vietnamese milled rice to enter Mexico duty-free. Figure 2 highlights the cracking of the door to the Mexico rice market that we’ve seen the last few years. 
    The U.S. is a fierce competitor; USDA projects that in the 2016/2017 marketing year the U.S. will be the fifth largest exporter of milled rice globally, yet only the 13th largest producer. But, the obvious question is whether other countries have the production capacity and export experience necessary to rival the U.S. in these important markets if the U.S. falters. Figure 3, drawn from USDA’s Production, Supply and Distribution data, highlights that since 1994, several countries have both increased their production and export prowess. For example, between the 1994/95 and 2016/17 marketing years, Vietnam grew its production and exports of milled rice by 71 percent and 142 percent, respectively. The question of whether there are competitors with the capacity to take the Mexican market seems to have been answered. 
  • Storms Bring Disaster to Arkansas Rice Country


    May 02, 2017
    Rice field in Jackson County on Sunday after 7 inches of rain
    Rice-Field-After-7-Inches-of-Rain,-J.-James farm
    LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – The storms that started Saturday night overflowed rain gauges up and down the Arkansas Delta, and forecasts show another rain event coming through tomorrow to add to the area’s already swollen waterways.   Jeff Rutledge, a rice farmer in Jackson County, whose farm is located where the surging Black and White Rivers merge, said, “As of now, the only way we can get to our farm shop is by boat.  We are headed up in a plane later today to determine the scope of damage.”      Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared a state of emergency as the powerful storms continue to wreak havoc, particularly in the northeast part of the state, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports rivers in that area, already well above flood stage, are expected to rise on into the coming weekend.    “At this point, it looks like we could lose 100,000 acres of rice in the state, but that could be lowballing it as the heaviest floodwaters are due later in the week,” said Jarrod Hardke, an Extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.  “Similar to the 2011 flood, the Black River is expected to exceed historic levels.  But unlike 2011 when only 45 percent of the rice had been planted, 89 percent of this year’s crop is already in the ground.  That loss on input costs will push the overall impact of this weather event even higher.  In addition, downstream areas have not realized the full impact of flooding as waterways have yet to reach their projected flood levels.” “The excessive rainfall hit us hard and then the lack of drainage due to flooding rivers only compounds the problem,” said Jennifer James, another rice farmer in Jackson County.  “We were off to a really good start on this crop year and Mother Nature had other plans.  In the end, it will likely be weeks before the extent of the damage and losses can accurately be determined.”   Assistance from the Federal government that takes the form of low interest loans from either the Small Business Administration or the Farm Service Agency at USDA requires a federal disaster declaration.     “At the moment, the best the rice industry can hope for is quickly receding waters, but the rain hasn’t even stopped yet,” said Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs.  “Private crop insurance assistance, in the form of replanting or preventative planting coverage can’t begin to be calculated until June 10 – the last day of potential planting.”
  • Week of Meetings Reinforces Relationship Between U.S. and Mexican Rice Industries


    Apr 28, 2017
    MRC President Pedro Schettino and USA Rice Chairman Brian King
    ITP.w-Pedro-Schettino-& B.-King-170428
    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – A delegation of U.S. rice industry leaders has wrapped up a series of successful meetings here with all segments of the Mexican rice industry against the backdrop of heightened tension and uncertainty for the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a treaty both industries adamantly support. The 12-member USA Rice delegation, led by USA Rice Chairman Brian King and President & CEO Betsy Ward, began the week with a briefing by U.S. Embassy officials, followed by a meeting with the Mexican Rice Council (MRC), the most important and influential producer and miller organization in Mexico.   Discussions centered around the impact of the Mexican government’s move to drop tariffs to zero for countries with which Mexico does not currently have a free trade agreement; the need for a coordinated approach to any renegotiation or “modernizing” of NAFTA; and the current crop situation in both Mexico and the United States. While most Asian rices do not enjoy the quality, safety, or consumer acceptance that U.S. rice does, the tariff issue is seen by both the U.S. and Mexican industries as potentially paving the way for greater imports from Asian exporters who already heavily subsidize their domestic rice industries. The delegation heard time and again how NAFTA has helped U.S. rice compete, and how the U.S. and Mexican industries must continue to make the case with their respective governments about the benefits of NAFTA that far outweigh any disruption in trade that withdrawal or significant modernization could bring. “Mexico takes 20 percent of all U.S. rice exports – 16 percent of all U.S. long grain rice – and that is because of NAFTA, not in spite of it,” explained King.  “We are grateful to have been able to meet with so many of our valued customers here and we heard them loud and clear and agree: ‘NAFTA works!’” "The direct and positive impact that NAFTA has had on U.S. rice exports and on jobs and prosperity in Mexico and the United States must be continually emphasized,” said Ward.  “We will be working together to preserve the benefits of NAFTA for the U.S. rice industry, as well as for our Mexican partners.”   The delegation also met with key Mexican rice millers, packers, distributors, and traders to express appreciation for the business relationships that have been developed over many years with Mexico.    “Strong promotion of increased rice consumption in Mexico supports the objectives of both USA Rice and the Mexican Rice Council, and cooperation on promotion will be strengthened as a result of these meetings,” said John Owen, Louisiana rice farmer and chair of the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board, who attended the meetings. “The theme of common goals for our industries was reiterated in every meeting,” said Todd Burich, chair of the USA Rice Trade Policy Subcommittee for Latin America.  “We accomplished a great deal here this week and I think we all head home with a greater appreciation for just how interdependent we are, how committed to free and open trade between our countries we are, and how we will work with our respective governments to effectively convey those truths.”
  • USA Rice Reaches 6 Million Turkish Consumers Thanks to Blogger Events


    Apr 26, 2017
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    ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- Turkey is a high priority market for exports sales and a good prospect for promoting increased consumption of U.S. rice due to the young, westernized population readily accepting of imported products, a concentration of buyers, a well-developed media, and a tradition of rice consumption.  As with many countries around the world, reaching these younger consumers is best accomplished via social media, an inexpensive and convenient way to gain media coverage that plays out in sales over the long term. In 2016, USA Rice held two blogger events here, Turkey’s most populated city with more than 17 million consumers.  The first event targeted media bloggers with the goal of introducing U.S. rice and U.S. wild rice, and to teach about the versatility of U.S. rice, along with its taste and quality attributes.   Sixteen top food bloggers attended the social media campaign launch with the Kirinti restaurant chain.  According to Deniz Erkul, the operation's owner, wild rice menu sales are now 20 percent of the total menu due to the USA Rice promotion.  “We believe that U.S. rice and mainly wild rice will be an asset to our existing rich menu.  Expanding our menu and including U.S. rice in different meal parts like salads, main dishes, and even desserts is exactly what we are looking for to encourage our customers to order it and to keep our menu fresh and exciting," said Erkul. The Kirinti U.S. rice campaign generated free media coverage and blogger support as key dailies like Milliyet, with over 1.5 million readers, covered it.   “Consumers naturally trust third-party blog posts about a product or company more than statements from the company itself,” said USA Rice Regional Director Hartwig Schmidt.  “And we are happy to report this campaign generated five million impressions which is media exposure for U.S. rice equivalent to $50,000 ad buy, at a fraction of the cost.” USA Rice hosted a similar blogger event at the Armada Club in Antalya where the restaurant’s executive chef prepared two dishes using U.S. rice.  The 22 food bloggers who participated received recipe brochures and detailed information about U.S. wild rice cooking and quality tips.  The coverage in major blogs generated one million impressions for U.S. wild rice. “Last year, the U.S. exported about $31 million worth of U.S. rice to Turkey,” stated Schmidt.  “It’s an important growth market for our industry and we are grateful for the use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) funds to help us market here.  Because of the MAP program, we are able to promote our products overseas and diversify the markets where we sell U.S. rice products.  This program is a huge boost to our growers who export about 50 percent of their crop each year.”
  • USDA FAS: USA Rice Programs in Jordan a Success

  • Apr 25, 2017
    Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan: lamb cooked in yogurt sauce served over rice
    AMMAN, JORDAN – According to the most recent Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) Report on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, consumer programs aimed at promoting U.S.-grown rice here are successful based on the market dominance and price of the U.S. commodity. “Rice is a staple of the Jordanian diet…[and] in marketing year 2017/18 imports are expected to reach 210,000 metric tons [with] U.S. market share expected to remain steady at nearly 50 percent supplying 100,000 metric tons,” reads the March 22 report.  “Although the price is relatively higher, the U.S. industry’s market development efforts have paid off, generating loyalty among Jordanian consumers who have developed a strong preference for U.S. origin rice.” USA Rice-sponsored promotion programs in Jordan include print and online advertising in advance of the Ramadan holiday when great feasts with rice are often prepared, outdoor advertising in 30 high-profile, high-traffic locations, and the distribution of branded aprons and other cooking apparel to tens of thousands of families in the capital. “We are working to improve our already excellent relationship with Jordanian consumers and see this market, number one in the Arab region for U.S. medium grain, as one we can continue to grow,” explained Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice’s representative for the region.  “Medium grain is the local favorite, constituting about half of imports, with long grain, basmati, and jasmine making up the rest.” Schmidt said that extreme water scarcity here means Jordan must import a great many crops – especially one as water-dependent as rice.  He said India, the next largest origin, accounts for about 23 percent of imports, but that no country pays a tariff to import rice to Jordan. “Jordan is a young country with a growing population thanks in part to refugees from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria,” Schmidt added.  “Rice is an important part of all their cultures, and we’ll do all we can to ensure they appreciate the quality and dependability of U.S. rice.”
  • U.S. rice exporters look to sell to Turkey while Russian row simmers

  • * Turkey-Russia spat creates opportunity for U.S. rice * U.S. rice filling regional supply gap after Egypt's export bans * Turkey acting as hub for rice exports to neighbours including Iraq and Syria By Maha El Dahan and Eric Knecht CAIRO, April 5 (Reuters) - U.S. rice producers are looking to increase exports to Turkey after the government effectively halted purchases of Russian agricultural products, a major U.S. rice trade association said on Wednesday. Last month Turkey put purchases of some Russian agricultural products on hold by imposing high import tariffs. Ankara denies it has imposed an import ban but Moscow has said the move is hindering a further improvement in relations, which soured when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in 2015. While the official reason for the hike in tariffs remains unclear, the Turkish economy ministry has said the improvement in political ties is not "fully reflected yet in economic relations" and restrictions on visas and obstacles for contractors in Russia remain. Greg Yielding, a representative for the private rice association U.S. Rice Producers visiting Egypt as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission, sees the Turkey-Russia row as an opportunity. "Some Russian rice was going into Turkey and now there are problems, so we see it as an opportunity to sell more into Turkey," Yielding said. "Turkey is a huge market, and even rough rice goes to Turkey, which is paddy rice," he said. Turkey imported about 71,700 tonnes of paddy rice from the United States and 67,400 tonnes from Russia in the 2015-16 season according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Turkey is a hub between suppliers and neighbouring countries such as Iraq and Syria, with exporters estimating that roughly 300,000 tonnes of rice are being transhipped through Turkey, the USDA report said. EGYPT REPLACEMENT U.S. rice growers have benefited in recent years from the absence of Egyptian rice in Middle East markets amid that country's export ban, Yielding said. Egypt first imposed a ban on rice exports in 2008 saying it needed to save rice for local consumption and also wanted to discourage farmers from growing the crop to save water. The ban has been repeatedly lifted and reinstated in recent years, creating a gap in regional markets such as Jordan, Syria, and Gulf Arab states that traditionally relied on Egyptian medium grain rice. "(U.S. rice) has replaced it because Egypt has been in and out of the market several times," Yielding said. Beyond taking market share from Egyptian rice regionally, Yielding also sees an opportunity for U.S. rice exports into Egypt itself, where a longstanding dispute over domestic prices has created intermittent shortages in the local market. Farmers last year refused to sell government mills their crops despite a plentiful harvest, arguing that the buying price of 2,400 Egyptian pounds($133.19) per tonne of rice paddy was too low. "If it's not in the market and the market needs it, so that's the reason there are Egyptian companies that are interested in importing milled rice, and some are interested in trying the southern medium grain," said Yielding. "With the growth of the population in the Egyptian market at around 2.5 million people per year, it's huge, so there's great opportunities." ($1 = 18.0200 Egyptian pounds) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)
  • UK Makes Brexit Official; What are Implications for U.S. Rice?


    Mar 30, 2017
    Brexit Graphic
    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – In a move that will have implications and present opportunities for U.S. rice, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom informed the President of the European Union yesterday that the UK is invoking its rights under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to withdraw from the EU.  Teresa May’s six-page letter formalized what all knew was coming since UK citizens voted to leave the EU in June – the “Brexit.” The prime minister’s action begins a two-year negotiation between UK and EU officials to remove the UK from more than 45 years of regulatory, economic, and political integration and establish a new relationship with the remaining 27 members of the EU. “This task is tremendously complicated and it’s unclear if two years will be sufficient,” said Bob Cummings, USA Rice COO.  “Many believe that the result will be an interim agreement that recognizes Brexit while the two sides continue negotiations, and the U.S. rice industry has a definite stake in the outcome.” At issue for the U.S. industry is how the much-diminished European market for U.S. rice will fare.  What has essentially been a single market: the EU, is becoming two markets: the EU and the UK. “We will need to work closely with U.S. trade officials on the treatment of the existing 38,000-metric-ton tariff rate quota for milled rice that the United States has with the EU,” Cummings said.  “Brexit should not affect that agreement that is the foundation of much of our current access in the EU where duties on U.S. rice are high while either very low or non-existent for many, many competitors.” Cummings acknowledged that much of the U.S. rice heading to the EU went to the UK, but that once Brexit is complete, the UK will have to establish its own tariff regime for imports not only from the EU but also from all other countries, including the United States. “Any U.S.-UK trade deal is at least two years away as the UK is unable to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries while still a member of the EU,” Cummings explained.  “A U.S.-UK trade deal is attractive to our industry, especially now that a larger U.S.-EU trade deal (T-TIP) appears to be in hibernation.” The United States has exceeded its EU TRQ in each of the last 10 years, with 55,840 mt ($42.4 million) going to the EU last year.  However, shipments are down considerably from the pre-Liberty Link period.  For example, exports to the EU in 2005 were almost 306,000 mt ($86.4 million), of which 135,640 mt ($36.1 million) went to the UK.