USA Rice Rubs Elbows at Ag Trade Promotion Workshop

Woman with dark hair and back to camera talks with older white man with mustache wearing business suit
Betsy Ward and Ted McKinney
Nov 22, 2019
BALTIMORE, MD – This week, USA Rice and nearly 100 other agricultural trade associations met here for the U.S Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC) Annual Workshop.  USAEDC is a non-profit, private sector trade association that represents the organizations, including USA Rice, that receive funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) for promotion of agricultural products overseas.

This year’s program featured visits from the chief agricultural trade negotiators from both USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and Ambassador Gregg Doud, respectively.

McKinney shared news on the trade promotion side, including a slew of new trade missions on tap for 2020.  He mentioned the success of recent trade missions, including one earlier this month to Mexico City, where USA Rice participated.  McKinney touched on a number of other important initiatives, such as combatting U.S. trading partners that are over-regulating pesticide residuals and using biotechnology as a way to block U.S. exports.  He also underscored the importance of getting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) across the finish line this year.

Doud had more to say on the negotiations front, where daily discussions with China are continuing as well as efforts in other key export markets.

Additional speakers discussed changing international market trends, including “meat pretenders,” humane and ethical origins of food, and environmental consideration for production, processing, and packaging.  

FAS Administrator Ken Isley debuted the agency’s new internal organizational structure and outlined the new leadership team.  More than 50 FAS staff attended the two-day meetings to interact with industry, collect feedback for the Department, and build relationships.

“It is always a great conference to get together with other trade associations working on international promotion to compare notes, to help share some of USA Rice’s success stories, and of course, to network,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “Every opportunity we have to get in front of Administration leadership like Ambassador Doud, Under Secretary McKinney, and FAS Administrator Isley and their teams is beneficial.  We reiterated to them the importance of getting rice into the comprehensive agreement with Japan that the administration has committed to begin negotiating next year, and the message was certainly received.”

In addition to the conference, Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president for international, participated as a USAEDC Board Member in the annual board meetings.