An announcement was made today that the China market is now open for the import of U.S. milled rice. This is a huge deal for Louisiana and rice farmers. 

“China is huge,” Kevin Berken, President of the Jeff Davis Rice Growers Association. “It’s been a work in progress for the last 10 to 20 years and it’s still going to be a work in progress, but this was a giant step forward.” 

Berken says one issue they’ve been working with China on the last few years is the phytosanitary protocol. 

“They want to make sure that the rice that we’re sending them over there is free of all the bugs and all the little things that could infiltrate their country over there, so they’ve put things into place. They’ve come checked our Mills like the ones that behind us,” explains Berken. 

News 10 reports, “Now really how big of an impact is this not only for obviously rice farmers, but really let’s go with Louisiana in general?” 

“Well first of all China consumes the whole U.S. rice production every two weeks so it’s a huge market so us trying to break into that market for a decade or more is something that we were desperately trying to do,” says Berken. 

Christian Richard, a rice farmer with Richard Farms in Vermilion Parish, says there’s only about 3 million acres of rice produced throughout the United States and of those 3 million acres, half of its exported. 

“Anytime that we can get any kind of shot in the arm or any kind of boost to export anything no matter what country it is,” Richard says. “You know China being a large consumer of rice. It’s definitely great news for the industry.” 

 “We haven’t gotten all of the approved Mills and everything yet so we still have a little ways to go but we’re one huge step closer to actually getting a ship going over there to China,” says Berken. 

A step in the right direction for both producers and millers. 

Rice farmers say there’s still many questions out there including when the first sales will be made.

Originally published on KLFY.com