On Tap for 2017 - Crop, Political, and Export Outlook

Dec 13, 2016
Click here to view interview with Ambassador Jones
US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones
MEMPHIS, TN – Looking ahead to challenges in 2017 was the theme of the final day of the annual USA Rice Outlook Conference.

“The U.S. rice industry has a dedicated and powerful ally in Ambassador Stuart Jones,” explained Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice in introducing the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to the capacity crowd on Friday morning.  “The insights he gave us on Iraq and the entire Middle East, and the direct advocating he did with the government of Iraq on our behalf are unique in my experience. We were fortunate to have him in Baghdad and here with us today.”

Jones shared how he worked with the government of Iraq to reinforce the positive attributes of U.S. rice: “reliable, high-quality, and dependable,” and the Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on U.S. rice that he helped make a reality.

“We won some tenders and lost some tenders, but I’m encouraged by the steps the government of Iraq is taking, and while I don’t want to overpromise, I think U.S. rice is well-positioned going into the new year,” Jones said.

The Friday afternoon sessions offered up 2017 projections from conference veterans and crowd favorites Nathan Childs and Jim Wiesemeyer.

Childs, Senior Economist at the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, gave an overview of global and domestic trends in rice production and trade. His detailed statistics and analysis are an invaluable resource to those involved in the rice industry, and this year was no exception. While the outlook was not favorable for the top five rice-exporting countries – including the U.S. – due to an abundant supply overseas pushing competitors’ prices even lower than our own, attendees left the session well-informed about what lies ahead.

The anchor position was once again held by Jim Wiesemeyer, Senior Vice President of Informa Economics IEG. During his talk, Wiesemeyer dissected the results of the presidential election and forecasted what he sees ahead for U.S. agriculture in a Trump administration, for instance less regulation and probable SNAP reform. He opined that 2018 Farm Bill negotiations would be pushed back to late 2017.   

Attendees had many questions for Wiesemeyer about President-elect Trump’s policies and who he might appoint to cabinet positions.  Wiesemeyer cautioned speculation is rampant in Washington, but if we continue to monitor Twitter, we’ll know details soon enough.