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U.S. rice shipments to China expected to start slowly

The next two months will be important ones for U.S. rice shipments to China, USA Rice expert says.

The announcement of the signing of a phytosanitary protocol for shipments of U.S. rice to China on July 19 represented more than 10 years of efforts to win an agreement by the U.S. rice industry.

So the USA Rice Federation doesn’t expect a large number of shipments to begin occurring immediately, says Bob Cumming, chief operating officer of USA Rice, who spoke at the Horizon Ag Field Day at the Mark Wimpy Farm near Jonesboro, Ark.

“We are working very closely with U.S. exporters and USDA to make the first shipments of rice to China a reality now that the phytosanitary protocol has been signed,” he said. That means arranging and supporting a visit of Chinese inspectors to rice country in the Mid-South and California in late September.

He said USA Rice has identified 25 to 28 facilities in the U.S. that could potentially export rice to ports in China. Those facilities, most of them rice mills, could be visited by the Chinese inspectors as early as the second half of September.

“China is the world’s largest consumer and importer of rice, and we hope to be shipping early in 2018 if things go smoothly,” he said. Those shipments are expected to start slow and hopefully will gain momentum into 2018 and 2019.

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