US-China Rice Deal Helps Louisiana Rice Farmers, Consumers

Farmers in China grow more than 20 times the amount of rice farmers grow in the United States. However, the people in China consume more than farmers there grow. LSU AgCenter Economist Mike Salassi says China's agreement to buy U.S. rice to fill its 5 million ton deficit will help stabilize the price for rice and ultimately help consumers.

By Avery Davidson, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation

Louisiana rice farmers are looking forward to the day they can sell rice to Cuba.

In the meantime, a bigger consumer of rice just agreed to buy rice grown by US farmers—China. Industry experts believe that China could buy more than 250,000 tons of rice from farmers in the US each year and that number is expected to grow. As a whole, US farmers grow about nine million tons a year.

LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Mike Salassi said the deal with China has the potential to stabilize and even increase the amount of money farmers receive for their rice, as well as provide food security back home.

“The one thing that this is going to do to help consumers, it’s going to help keep our food industry, in particular, our rice industry, viable,” Salassi said.   “That's just good national security, food security for this country.”

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue signed the agreement last week which opened the door for China to buy US rice. Right now, rice farmers receive about $12 for every hundred pounds of rice they grow.