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Rice Producers stepping up efforts to market rice in Central America

U.S. rice farmers are coming off a year in which many of them produced record yields. But they also know that if they can’t market their rice all the production practices they use will come to nought.

President and CEO Dwight Roberts talked about what the U.S. Rice Producers Association is doing to increase rice sales in Central America in a speech at the National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference in Tunica, Miss. U.S. Rice Producers Association was one of the sponsors of the conference.

“Rice is such a unique commodity,” said Roberts. “In the United States, we grow a little over 3 million acres of rice, nothing to compare to the 90-plus million acres of corn or the 11 million acres of cotton. But rice is that commodity around the world that governments protect and subsidize.

“It’s a commodity that if the prices goes up a few cents per pound, they have riots in Thailand or Haiti or Nicaraugua. It’s a commodity that is heavily protected and subsidized in a number of countries. Farmers in Central America and Asia receive $500 per ton for paddy rice at the farm. If we had subsidies like those we’d be growing rice in downtown New York.”

Roberts cited a new grain loading facility near Lake Charles, La., as an example of what rice farmers are doing to enable them to ship identity-preserved rice by rail to rice mills in Mexico. The facility, located in a former sugar refinery, was converted using funds provided by farmers and aid from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture.

To read more about the facility, click on

And for more about the international rice markets, go to


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