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.”

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.
Mexico Re-imposing Import Duty on Asian Milled Rice Print E-mail
itp-amidst mexico re-imposing import duty on asian milled rice opportunities for u.s-141211MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- (December 11, 2014) -- Yesterday, the Government of Mexico (GOM) announced a re-imposition of a 20 percent duty on Asian rice to begin on vessels arriving after January 10, 2015.

The GOM removed the long-standing duty on grains from all origins back in 2008 as a way to reduce the price of basic commodities to its population.  With cheap prices and zero duty, Asian rice began to enter Mexico, and by 2013 and 2014 imports had skyrocketed, cutting into the traditional U.S. market for paddy and milled rice.

The U.S. market share for milled rice, once more than 95 percent has fallen this year to 34 percent.  Vietnam and Thailand are the primary origins making inroads today.  Pakistan, once a player, can no longer export to Mexico due to phytosanitary issues.

"Local traders, packers, and millers we've spoken with believe the first few months of 2015 will present great opportunities for the sale of U.S. rice to Mexico, given our large high-quality crop and the new import duty on Asian origin rice," said Betsy Ward, USA Rice Federation's president and CEO.

Ward went on to point out that the competitive advantage could end up being short-lived if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is signed in 2015.

"Mexico is anxious to conclude TPP talks, and as it looks now, Vietnamese rice would gain back some or all of its duty advantage under that agreement," she said.

USA Rice is monitoring this situation very closely and will keep members up to date on events as they transpire.

Photo caption:  Advantage:  U.S. rice
Arkansas Rice Producer Dow Brantley Elected Chairman of the USA Rice Federation Print E-mail
bw and usarf chairmen-140715DALLAS, TX -- (July 15, 2014) -- The Board of Directors of the USA Rice Federation elected a new chairman during annual meetings here yesterday.

Arkansas rice producer Dow Brantley will assume the two-year post on August 1, taking over for Mark Denman, a Texas rice miller who has been chairman of the group since 2012.

"Dow is going to make a great chairman," Denman said.  "He is an important producer in the number one rice producing state in the country, and has already begun to make his mark on the industry as the chairman of the Arkansas Rice Federation and the Arkansas Rice Farmers and through his service on several USA Rice committees and task groups."

"Mark Denman guided our industry through some trying times -- the farm bill, trade and marketing challenges, and other critical issues," said Brantley.  "He was also at the helm during our recent strategic planning that resulted in a solid viability plan for the industry and the organization.  He served all segments of the industry with distinction, and I'm looking forward to keeping us moving in that right direction."

Brantley operates a large family farm in England, Arkansas and reports about 35 percent of his acreage is in rice.  In addition to serving on several USA and Arkansas Rice committees, Brantley is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program, and is the chairman of the Lonoke County Farm Bureau.

"This is an exciting time for the American rice industry with many challenges and opportunities ahead," said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice.  "Chairman Denman was an outstanding leader who turns over a more focused and stronger Federation than he inherited.  We're pleased to continue working with Chairman-elect Brantley as we continue to enhance our organization and take on existing and new challenges on behalf of the entire U.S. industry."

Photo caption: CEO Betsy Ward flanked by outgoing Chairman Mark Denman (l.) and new Chairman Dow Brantley.
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


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