Daily American Republic
A 15-year effort to open China’s doors to U.S. rice growers could mean a boom for Southeast Missouri farmers if a sanitary protocols agreement is reached soon. The protocols have been in limbo since China joined the World Trade Organization in 1999, keeping U.S. rice out of Chinese markets. Past chairman of the U.S. Rice Producers Association BJ Campbell says China has gone from being a rice exporter, however, to importing more than 2 million tons of the grain. Meanwhile, Missouri is the fifth-biggest rice producer in the U.S., with export receipts topping $120 million in 2013. Arkansas is No. 1, but because water is lacking there, an expansion in that state is not expected. Officials from the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China are expected to sign the protocol agreement next week when Chinese president Xi Jinping makes a visit to Washington, D.C., according to the USRPA. While the sanitary protocols agreement still is expected to be signed, it may not be until November, and the actual signing likely will take place in China. The protocols ensure rice imported to China is food quality and free of pests and disease, and they must be in place before imports can occur.