Major Chinese Rice Import Company Visits U.S. Rice Industry Print E-mail
ip-major-chinese-rice-import-co-visits-us-rice-industry-small-141008RICE COUNTRY, USA -- The USA Rice Federation facilitated the visit of four representatives from one of the largest private rice importing companies in China to the offices of U.S. rice exporters in Arkansas, Louisiana, and California this week and  last.  The company, Dragon Ocean Hing Group, was established  in 2001and has an annual import volume of over 200,000 metric tons and a turnover of more than $163 million U.S dollars.

“This trip was very successful,” said Mr. William Li, the delegation leader.  “There were more exporters interested in meeting with us than time allowed.”

With their subsidiaries Shenzhen Hong Tai Xiang Import & Export, Gold Profit Industries, and Shenzhen Yintuo, the company has built a complete rice supply chain from origin procurement to terminal sales, covering customs clearance, domestic logistics, freight forwarding, import and export agency, warehouse, rice factory, and both retail and wholesale rice distribution.

One hundred sixty thousand tons of the two hundred thousand Dragon Ocean Hing imports each year is long grain sourced from Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan. The remaining 40,000 tons of imports is short and medium grain rice used in alcohol and rice noodles.  The company sells products in over eighty cities, 1,200 supermarkets, 1,500 gas stations, and major on-line stores.

“We expected this trip to help prepare us to reach import contract agreements with American rice suppliers as soon as China allows rice imports from America,” “We believe American rice will enhance our product line and we wish to be the first company to import American rice into China.”

 
Major Grant Awarded to Rice Industry, DU for Habitat Conservation Efforts Print E-mail
ga-major nrcs grant awarded owen bw and weller-150114WASHINGTON, DC -- (January 14, 2015) -- Today Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced approved grants from the first round of proposals to the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The USA Rice Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU), and more than 40 collaborating partners are pleased that the "Rice Stewardship Partnership - Sustaining the Future of Rice" project was selected for support.

This project will help rice producers conserve natural resources such as water, soil and waterfowl habitat, while having long-term positive impacts on their bottom line.

The RCPP application process was very competitive; less than half of all applications were awarded funding, and no proposal was fully funded.  However, the USA Rice and DU national request was deemed to have significant merit, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) - the agency responsible for administering RCPP - awarded the partnership a grant of $10 million, one of the largest awards given under the program.

"The Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Texas' and Louisiana's Gulf Coast, and California's Central Valley are critical landscapes for waterfowl and therefore ranked as some of DU's top priorities for habitat conservation," said DU President and Arkansas rice producer George Dunklin.

A 2014 study conducted by DU scientists for The Rice Foundation demonstrated that rice agriculture provides 35 percent of the food resources available to migrating and wintering dabbling ducks in the regions where rice is grown in the United States.

"U.S. rice farms are valuable, not just for the nutritious commodity they produce and their positive impact on the economy, but also as important contributors to the entire ecosystem, and today's announcement from NRCS and USDA recognizes that fact," said USA Rice Federation Chairman Dow Brantley, an Arkansas rice farmer.  "Wildlife and waterfowl depend on our farms as much as any of us do."

Established in the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects designed by collaborating partners.

"The USA Rice Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and all of our partners commend the USDA for their vision in creating partnership-driven conservation initiatives, and we especially appreciate each of the six state NRCS offices who were instrumental in crafting a competitive proposal," said Betsy Ward, President and CEO of USA Rice. "This is a giant step forward for conservation in ricelands with many more steps to come."

"We applaud the many rice producers who integrate extra conservation measures into their rice production to maintain water quality and provide much-needed waterfowl habitat," said USDA NRCS Chief Jason Weller.  "The partnership between DU, USA Rice, and USDA offers increased technical and financial assistance to help producers accomplish these goals on their land, and the tangible benefits to farmers, the environment, and all Americans will be felt for a long time."

The Arkansas NRCS has scheduled a meeting Friday, January 16, to announce the state's RCPP project participants, and to invite local rice farmers to an informational session with RCPP Project Sponsors. All 50 states and Puerto Rico received NRCS funding for conservation projects and have scheduled similar events in the coming week.

Photo caption:  From left:  LA rice farmer John Owen, USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward, and NRCS Chief Jason Weller
 
Obama Calls for New Cuba Policy: U.S. Rice Industry Gains are Possible Print E-mail
comm- castro pic eating us rice 141217WASHINGTON, DC -- (December 17, 2014) -- President Obama announced today that he is updating the U.S. Cuba policy, including reestablishing diplomatic relations between the countries after more than 50 years, and promoting travel and commercial opportunities between the two countries.

Central to the President's initiative is a new approach to banking, allowing U.S. and Cuban banks to have direct relationships.

"The changes to banking are very important because they will significantly reduce red tape and costs associated with doing business with Cuba," said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of the USA Rice Federation.  "Since the mid-1990's USA Rice has taken leadership among commodity groups in calling for an end to the economic and travel embargo on Cuba, so we're encouraged by today's announcement."  

Ward said her organization has long maintained that the "embargo was not on Cuba, as they could source rice and other products from around the world, but rather on the rice growers in the U.S., whose own government cut them out of one of the world's top markets, just 90 miles from our shores."  She added that USA Rice is also a founding member of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), a group dedicated to lifting the embargo.

"USA Rice was the first U.S. group of any kind to exhibit at the 2001 Cuba International Trade Fair, the first such participation in any Cuban trade fair in more than 40 years," said USA Rice's Marvin Lehrer.  "This historic action, taken under extraordinary and difficult circumstances, was among those cited by the Government of Cuba as a motivation in making the first purchase of U.S. rice since 1961 and garnered worldwide media attention."

Sales rose steadily reaching 176,631 metric tons in 2004, representing about 30 percent of Cuba's import needs.  Since then, imports fell and no sales have been made since 2008 - due to further U.S. government restrictions on definition of "cash in advance" and banking terms with Cuba.

As a major consumer and importer of rice, and once the largest market for U.S. rice, Cuba is uniquely positioned to once again become a major market for the United States, which offers easy logistics for exactly the type of rice Cubans demand.  

"Today's announcements are good news for the Cuban and American people," said Dow Brantley, an Arkansas rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Federation.  "We'll be looking for ways to tap into potential markets there to help people on both sides of the equation."

"As we wait to see what the long term political implications of this decision are, today's announcement is an important step forward towards establishing a valuable new market for U.S. agriculture," said Representative Ted Poe (R-TX).  "Easing trade restrictions to take advantage of the high demand for rice in Cuba would provide a new market that would benefit rice farmers in Texas and around the United States."  

"While this appears to be an early Christmas present to rice farmers and the people of Cuba, banking restrictions will need to be completely liberalized in the future for free and unfettered trade to take place," added Ward.

Photo caption:  Fidel Castro samples U.S. rice at the 2002 Havana International Trade Fair.
 
USA Rice Promotes Cochran Bipartisan Letter on Iraqi Rice Purchases Print E-mail
itp-thad cochran-150123WASHINGTON, DC -- (January 23, 2015) -- This week, the USA Rice Federation encouraged Members of Congress to sign on to a letter written by Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to help America's rice farmers improve existing trade relations with the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB).

The final letter was sent today with all six rice producing states represented by the 36 signatories.  Thirteen Senators and 23 House Members called on Secretary Kerry to see to it U.S. rice producers are fairly considered to win Iraqi business.

Despite years of effort to rebuild commercial relationships with the IGB, Iraq has inexplicably failed in several recent tenders to purchase competitively-priced U.S. rice.  And a new tender opens this weekend.

"While American exporters have continued to offer competitive bids, the [Iraqi Grain] Board has lately chosen higher-priced non­-American bids," the letter reads.  "We recognize Iraq's prerogative to make these types of decisions, but it serves no purpose to discriminate against competitively-priced U.S.rice..."

"We've lost out on three of the last four tenders despite prices nearly $50 per metric ton below the winning South American bids with zero explanation from the IGB," said USA Rice Federation President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "We believe the U.S. government needs to engage directly with Iraq's Minister of Trade to get to the bottom of this.  Senator Cochran agreed wholeheartedly and spearheaded the effort on the Hill to focus Secretary Kerry on this issue."

"Iraq is a large rice import market, purchasing just under 1.5 million metric tons annually," said Dow Brantley, an Arkansas rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice.  "We have the high quality crop at the right price to meet Iraqi demand, but if they keep ignoring our bids, it's going to present problems down the line for rice producers and millers, especially in the mid-South."

The IGB purchases nearly all imports via a public tendering process and has issued a 30,000 mt tender which will be open for bids on January 25, 2015.

Photo caption:  Senator Cochran
 
School Nutrition Magazine Announces Healthy Rice Bowls Contest Print E-mail
The September issue of School Nutrition Magazine (circulation 50,000) features the USA Rice Federation's annual Healthy Rice Bowls Contest for kindergarten through 12th grade (K-2) school menu planners.  The contest began this month to coincide with National Rice Month and the beginning of the new school year.

In a piece with the headline of "Bowl Them Over," the article says, “rice sure is nice, especially for winners of the USA Rice Federation's Healthy Rice Bowls Contest for K-12 school nutrition professionals!”  It also gives details on how to submit entries for creative rice bowls served as a school lunch.

The contest is an opportunity for USA Rice to promote rice usage in schools and feature winning ideas on the organization's Web site.

This year's entry deadline is Nov. 6.  One winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card, an Aroma commercial rice cooker for their school and a 10-cup cooker for home.  Runners-up also will receive rice cookers.

USA Rice works closely with the School Nutrition Association and K-12 menu planners to encourage increased rice offerings in schools. For more contest information and a look at previous winners, visit MenuRice.com.

 


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