Deal to allow rice exports to China
Trade officials have finalized a protocol to allow for the first-ever shipments of U.S.-grown rice to China, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement.
China is the world’s biggest rice consumer, importer and producer. Arkansas is the nation’s largest rice producer, with some 1.1 million acres planted this year.
Jarrod Hardke, a rice specialist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the deal is good news for Arkansas rice farmers. “This certainly opens the door for U.S. rice exports to China, but it doesn’t mean the door automatically opens and we go in guns blazing and slinging rice,” Hardke said.
Chinese inspectors will visit rice mills across the nation this year before the deal is completed.
“I have been in the majority of our [Arkansas] rice mills and facilities, and they do an excellent job,” he said. “We have little reservation that we will do more than just pass inspection.”
Andrew Grobmyer, executive vice president of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, praised the agreement. “We are relieved to have reached this point,” he said.