Working Together to Maximize U.S. Rice Quality

By John Anderson – Farmers Storage, Inc., Essex, Mo.

john andersonRice quality, specifically chalk, has been the buzz phrase lately with buyers and farmers both. In recent years, the quality of U.S. rice has not been as attractive to buyers in Central America. However, the U.S. has the best farmers in the world, along with some of the best technology, which allows us to provide the highest quality rice available and to determine rice purity. This will require change in some of the farming and handling practices that are currently being employed on a widespread basis. The first step is to identify varieties that are desired by the consumers. Many U.S. farmers are trying to get the highest field yields, highest milling and manage input costs to maximize the return to their farming business – a sound approach in a marketplace that demands quality. But in today’s world, costs continue to go up, prices vary, and we always have unpredictable weather. There are two ways to look at this – quality demanded by the consumer and efficiencies. We need to provide a product that allows for both. It has to be a win/win for the buyer and the producer. The next step involves the processor who needs a product that is homogenous in size, cooking and milling characteristics to achieve efficiency. In the milling process, if kernel size or quality of the grain is different, more is required to turn out the end product. This is crucial to the bottom line and logistics of any production facility.

We have to go after what the marketplace desires and then fit our practices to achieve this. We must be poised to take these opportunities or someone else will.

Backing further into the process, farmers need a product that yields the highest return and is wanted by the end user in the marketplace. We cannot force something on the buyer of today’s food product. First, we have to go after what the marketplace desires and then fit our practices to achieve this, which requires us to segregate and position ourselves to fill these needs. We must be poised to take these opportunities or someone else will. Sometimes we have to do the work before the reward comes. Moving towards these practices will make our rice more sought out and, therefore, increase demand in the long run for what the U.S. is known for – high-quality rice.