National News

U.S. rice headed to China? Maybe…

China’s Customs Office delivered American rice producers an early New Year’s present on December 27, 2018 when they announced the country was finally open for the import of U.S. milled rice.


The move is in accordance with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Protocol signed between the United States and China in July of 2017.


California rice farmer and USA Rice Chair Charley Mathews, Jr. said, “This is a tremendous milestone that has taken more than a decade to reach and is a result of the insistence from USA Rice in including rice as a step in resolving the trade dispute between China and the U.S.. As with all our dealings with China, the devil is in the details, and we have many questions, including when the first sales will be made, but this is definitely good news for our producers and millers as we enter the New Year.”


It remains unclear how or when all administrative steps will be completed. Thirty-Four U.S. rice mills have applied to export rice to China, but no individual mills have yet been approved. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has reached out and told them that the agency is working on clearing up the remaining steps in the process that are needed to pave the way for actual sales.



In 2017, USA Rice worked with U.S. and Chinese government officials to facilitate Chinese inspections of some 10 U.S. mills and facilities interested in exporting rice to China to demonstrate their compliance with the complex U.S.-China phytosanitary protocol.


“What is still not 100 percent clear is whether China has published the complete list of all the U.S. facilities approved to ship to China,” said Bobby Hanks, Chair of USA Rice’s International Trade Policy Committee and a Louisiana miller.  “We will be looking in the days ahead to USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative for clarification to make sure that all approved U.S. facilities are eligible. We of course are looking for the first confirmed rice sale to China. This important day for the U.S. rice industry is the result of the trade policy leadership of the Trump administration and the commitment of Secretary Perdue to open new markets for U.S. agriculture,” concluded Hanks.



USA Rice contributed to this story.




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Terry Simmons