Leadership from the USA Rice International Promotion Committee and the USA Rice Council met in Toronto this week to examine the current export picture for U.S.-grown rice and discuss future marketing and trade policy programs. While U.S. rice faces tariff and non-tariff barriers in many markets, the group endorsed USA Rice’s proposed strategy for the coming year with some adjustments to ensure maximum impact.
Mexico and Japan, two of our most important markets, remained at the top of the priority list. Programs will be expanded in the UK and Jordan, and the group will continue to dedicate resources to China in preparation for the successful conclusion of the phytosanitary negotiations.
“We will also build on our successes in other key markets such as Colombia, Haiti, South Korea, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia, and also in the realm of food aid,” said Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president of international. “U.S. rice is highly accepted and sought after in these markets and we will continue to expand our reach.”
USA Rice resources devoted to Cuba, once the top destination for U.S.-grown rice, and a market that the U.S. rice industry continues to urge the U.S. government to reopen, were scaled back for now, at least until the diplomatic situation between the U.S. and Cuba improves.
But flexibility in programming is also important to the group and resources could be shifted back there at any point.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities and they continue to come at different times and for different reasons. We are confident we have the ability to react quickly when there are opportunities to get U.S rice into new markets,” said Terry Harris, chairman of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.
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Attending this year’s planning session were growers from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and merchants and millers from Arkansas and California.
The group heard presentations and updates from Lita Echiverri, an international trade specialist at USDA/FAS, and Evan Mangino, the Agricultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, who also has the advantage of being previously stationed in Japan where he worked on rice issues.
“This meeting was very productive,” said Betsy Ward, USA Rice president and CEO. “It’s valuable for us to hear our members’ insights into key export markets and we greatly appreciate them devoting their time to an in-depth planning session to hear reports about what we are doing in the market, what we can do more of, and where we can direct resources.”