The United States reached a historic trade agreement with China earlier this month to exponentially increase market exportation in China. The historic announcement could mean a huge financial boost for Arkansas rice growers.
Will Floyd, president of Eastside Rice, one of the largest plants for producing rice in Northeast Arkansas, had the rare opportunity to travel to China and witness how the rice crop impacts China, as well as Arkansas on agricultural and economic levels.
“You have a growing niche in that market that wants U.S. rice and this has the potential to be maybe a three or four hundred thousand metric ton a year market for U.S. rice,” says Floyd. “If China comes to the market, you know... I think that you'll see an expansion... you'll see an increase in price first, and then you'll see an increase in acreage. similar to what we saw in 2009.”
Floyd also suggests that this agreement will not only provide china with safe food, but a variety of rice offerings. He also indicates an increase in acreage for farmers, considering that Arkansas grows fifty percent of the nation’s rice crop.
“China has had recurring problems with arsenic in their rice, plastic in their rice, and now their consumers want to choose what they eat, and now they the money to do so.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects that China will be importing more than 4.8 million metric tons of rice by the end of 2018. This will make it the world's largest import on the market by far.
According to U.S.A. Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward, China consumes the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop about every two weeks.
According to U.S.A. rice officials, the demand for U.S. milled rice is expected to be strongest in coastal areas, among higher income consumers and in the Chinese restaurant trade.
This policy could go into effect as early as 2018.