Boosting Trade

 Giving a review recently of the rice market and how important
 the markets are was Greg Yielding, representing the US Rice
 Producers Association and the Missouri Rice Council.

 Photo by John LaRose, Jr.

Building, Keeping Markets Is Aim Of Rice Producers Group

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

   A review of the rice market situation took place recently when Greg Yielding, representing the US Rice Producers Association and the Missouri Rice Council, spoke on the topic. He began with a reminder of how important the markets are.
   “We can’t depend on government payments and we have to have new markets,” Yielding stressed. “We export half of the rice we grow in this country so we continually have to have new markets and service the markets that we do have.”
   The United States must hold on to its existing markets, keeping those markets such as Mexico, which is the largest U.S. market. This country has trade deals in markets in Central America, and he discussed those. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could negatively affect the U.S. export market to Mexico, he said. China and other new markets were part of the topic.
   “The US Rice Producers Association, more specifically me, has worked since 2006 to open the Chinese market, to get the protocols agreed upon from the Chinese and our USDA,” Yielding stated. “We are now very close to doing that. I was in China in November and we did more surveys in predominately medium grain areas in the north of China, northeastern China. We shared that information with the Chinese importers, with the supermarkets; and they in turn, are pushing their government to go ahead and with this because they know they can make money off of U.S. rice.”
   His next trip is to a long grain area in southern China this month. More surveys on long grain rice will be conducted there. The hope is, by the end, the United States will have a signature on an agreement to sell rice to China. That is a very important market, a high quality U.S. number 1 milled, prepackaged market. It’s very important to the farmers.
   “Another market is Cuba,” Yielding said. “We were in Washington DC recently with the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) where we had meetings with our congressional delegation and delegations all across the United States about opening up agricultural trade with Cuba.”
   There’s a lot of debate back and forth about totally lifting the embargo, and the U.S. producers’ goal is to be able to sell them food. They’re getting their food from other countries now, competitors like Brazil, Vietnam, and the EU.
   “We need a market to sell them not only rice, but soybeans, wheat, corn and other commodities that we produce,” he noted. “There’s just some things that need to be done financially for us to be able to do that. We’re working very hard to explain that to our legislators because this is what is going to help the price of commodities and that’s what the farmers need is a good price.”
   Commenting on the proposed markets, Yielding said that Cuba used to be the United States’ biggest market before the embargo.
   “Also, in 2004 when there was some easing of restrictions, we sold up to 200,000 metric tons to Cuba. But Cuba is a 500,000 metric ton market. So Cuba could be as big as Mexico. You wouldn’t expect to get all the business, but you could definitely get a good 300,000 to 350,000 metric tons, which would be huge for the U.S. farmer.”
   Yielding feels nothing – not politics, not trade deals – should stand in the way for U.S. commodities to be marketed around the world.
   “We must keep up with markets. We must keep our markets open and be able to sell what we grow to whoever wants to buy it,” he said. “Rice, or agriculture in general, should not be thrown under the bus in some of these trade deals, and sometimes that tends to happen. We must feed ourselves, and we have a strong agriculture component in this country, because the food does not come from the grocery store. It comes from farmers that grow it!” ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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