ARLINGTON, VA - In town for the latest USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee meeting, USA Rice Chairman Brian King, a rice merchant with Erwin Keith, Inc., met with USA Rice staff to talk about industry priorities and give some background on the important role merchants play in the U.S. rice industry.
"Everyone's aware stemming imports is a top priority for our industry," said King. "This is an issue that has to be approached from many different angles. On the domestic side, working with the industry to improve quality, and with consumers and the foodservice sector to speed acceptance and increase consumption of U.S.-grown rice. And on the international side, staying vigilant when it comes to enforcement and finding inroads into new markets around the world. We rely on USA Rice to keep our industry in play in all these areas."
King has more than 24 years of rice and grain marketing experience and has been active in various merchant groups since 2002.
"When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force in 1994, and the U.S. started exporting paddy rice in a big way to Mexico, a new business model was created, including the need for the merchant sector," King explained. "Today Mexico is our largest export market and Canada is our fourth, but we facilitate rice shipments all over the world and we're always looking for new markets."
King continued, "Merchants are really into logistics. Moving product is our business whether by truck, barge, or rail. We fulfill a 12-month need for that product and provide a market outlet for thousands of farmers in all six rice-producing states."
King also praised USA Rice for filling a valuable forum and education component.
"The annual USA Rice Outlook Conference continues to grow and is extremely valuable for all sectors of the industry," he said. "This meeting, and others throughout the year that USA Rice sponsors and attends, bring us all together providing excellent opportunities for us to learn from each other. We are stronger as an industry for those efforts and interactions."
"I really appreciate Brian taking the time to talk with our staff about his business and how he thinks USA Rice can best serve the industry," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "He is well versed on our issues having graduated from The Rice Leadership Development Program, serving on the board of the USA Rice Merchants' Association and numerous other USA Rice committees, and as current chair of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. He's been great to work with as chairman because of his vast knowledgeable and experience and his generosity with both."