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China purchases first shipment of U.S. rice

China purchases first shipment of U.S. rice

A California-based company secured the contract

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The U.S. and China are finding new ways to do business together despite a trade war over soybeans and other commodities.

China purchased about 40 tons of rice from the United States last week, Reuters reported. The transaction marks the first time China is importing U.S. rice.

Industry reps hope this purchase can turn into a sustainable relationship.

“The potential of the Chinese market is huge,” Michael Klein, a spokesman for USA Rice, told Farms.com. “They actually consume the entire U.S. crop (9.9 million tons in 2017) every two weeks. For that market to open up and be a dependable market would be a huge boom for the U.S. industry.”

In December 2018, China announced it would start to allow imports of American rice so long as the shipments meet the country’s inspection standards and are registered with the USDA.

But the work to even get to that point goes back more than a decade, Klein said.

“We’ve been working on the phytosanitary protocol for about 12 years,” he said. “It’s the most complex protocol the U.S. rice industry has ever been a part of. The (Obama) administration got it to the goal line, and it was one of Secretary Perdue’s priorities to get that done.”

Without the phytosanitary measures, exporting rice to China is illegal, Klein said.

A California-based company secured the contract for the Chinese shipment.

Sun Valley Rice in Colusa County sold the cargo of Calrose medium-grain rice to Shenzhen Yintuo, a private importer and exporter.

Having the company’s name attached to the first U.S. shipment of rice to reach China is exciting, said Steve Vargas, senior vice-president of global trading for Sun Valley Rice and vice-chair of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.

“We’re very happy that they chose us,” he told Farms.com. “It’s a big step for the national rice industry and we hope it’s the first of more sales to come.”

The rice will be shipped out later this month after it’s packaged, Vargas said.

“The cargo is in the process of being packaged,” he said “There’s retail and food service packaging that needs to be done. The shipment will leave the U.S. towards the end of July and early August and should arrive in China in time for a harvest festival.”

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