Nov 23, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, USA Rice participated in the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council’s (USAEDC) annual conference, another event forced to go virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. The week-long event included the usual features like training workshops, general session speakers, topic-specific breakout sessions, and board meetings.
General session speakers included USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, The Cook Political Report’s Charlie Cook, and former USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky. Speakers focused heavily on the new political landscape, both assessing the 2020 election and making predictions for political priorities in 2021. They also touched on the impact COVID-19 has had on agricultural exports for the U.S. and worldwide.
Likewise, the breakout sessions also dealt with the pandemic impact, with one session titled “Doing Business in a Virtual World.” A session that was particularly relevant for rice, titled “Global Trade Barriers,” discussed maximum residue level (MRL) issues around the world. New Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy Dr. Julie Callahan was a key panelist in that session, encouraging U.S. exporters to stay ahead of the curve on MRL compliance. Callahan also spoke of her work as a trade negotiator to ensure MRLs are not used as a weapon against U.S. exporters and the importance of using science rather than social pressure to set levels.
“This conference is always an important meeting for USA Rice,” said Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president for international. “We’re able to catch-up with our USDA colleagues, participate in annual training and compliance sessions, and hear about what other U.S. commodity organizations are doing to grow their markets and solve exporting issues around the globe that may in turn help USA Rice.”
USAEDC is a non-profit private sector trade association with over 80 members who are U.S. commodity trade associations, farmer cooperatives, and state regional trade groups from around the country, representing the interests of growers and processors of a variety of U.S. agricultural products. These groups come together under the USAEDC umbrella to assist with export promotion efforts.