SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA — USA Rice participated in Cooperator Day, which took place on the final day of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Western Hemisphere Regional Conference here last week. USA Rice and representatives from thirteen other commodity groups, along with FAS staff from the Western Hemisphere, gathered to discuss resources and programs with the goal of enhancing relationships between cooperators and their supporting posts.
Led by Evan Mangino, FAS Agricultural Counselor in Costa Rica, the sessions covered topics ranging from country briefings, regional trends, and ethics, and concluded with a spirited Q&A where cooperators offered constructive criticism to FAS posts on potential improvement as well as a healthy dose of praise for their consistent support.
USA Rice staff also met with nine FAS offices from Mexico, Central America, Haiti, Canada, and Colombia during the “speed-dating” consultations to share country specific program and trade policy updates for U.S.-origin rice.
“FAS is a vital component to the success of our overseas programs,” said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice director of international promotion in the Western Hemisphere who attended the events. “Their support allows USA Rice to bring awareness to U.S.-origin rice in nearly two dozen countries around the world and conduct trade servicing in at least a dozen others through industry resources and USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funds.”
Cooperator Day bookended a packed schedule for USA Rice that started with a slate of meetings with the Costa Rican trade including importers, retailers, and distributors.
“Despite Costa Rica’s decrease in U.S. rice imports over the past year, USA Rice strives to maintain trade relationships and strengthen cooperation in promotional activities that benefit both the U.S. industry and Costa Rican businesses,” said Grigsby.
The tour concluded with market visits at Walmart, Auto Servicio, and smaller, locally-owned grocers to view the “Think Rice” promotional campaign in person.
Approximately 70 percent of U.S. rice exports go to the Western Hemisphere, at more than 1.7 million MT in 2022 valued at $980 million.