Trans Pacific Partnership

USRPA will continue to work with the Mexican Rice Council to negotiate a satisfactory outcome for the TPP.

Dwight Roberts President/CEO USRPA

Dwight Roberts President/CEO USRPA

Mexico is the largest market for U.S. rice, and it appears that one of the consequences of the new Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is to take that market away.

It is clear that our negotiating team thinks autos, computers or financial services are more important because there’s no explanation for our side abandoning our best market. As we saw in 2014, lowpriced Asian rice flooded Mexico and will do it again if the new trade agreement makes it law.

This reminds us of the initial phase of the Central American Free Trade Agreement negotiations when the first question asked by the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) to the loyal customers was: “What do you want in the FTA that will allow us to continue to supply your market?”

At the time, the U.S. rice sector enjoyed a 99 percent share of the market, and the repercussions of free trade were hazy.


 

The USRPA still believes in listening to their customers in Mexico and will continue to work with the Mexican Rice Council to negotiate a satisfactory outcome for the TPP and help them obtain what they believe will allow continued, economically feasible access to U.S. rough rice.


And Central America’s response to the question was: “We want access to rough rice in the United States or we cannot guarantee we will buy U.S. rice on a milled basis. We receive offers from Asia every day.”

The exhaustive negotiations were one of the defining issues in the establishment of the USRPA. We were told over and over again that rough rice exports would cripple the U.S. rice industry.

Farmers Need Every Alternative

So then let’s ask, “Where would the U.S. rice farmer be today if the alternative to ship his rough rice to Mexico, Central America, South America or wherever the customer wants to buy wasn’t an option?” I don’t have to answer that question because farmers know they need every alternative available.

If sales to Mexico fall 50 to 75 percent, the consequences for rice farmers are horrendous. We must do everything in our power to hold on to the market for U.S. rice in Mexico.

During the past five years, Mexico has averaged 885,000 tons of rice imports making it the largest importer in the Western Hemisphere. With a population today of 120 million people, rice consumption and imports will continue to grow as consumers of low and medium income are more familiar with the benefits of consuming rice. Expected population increase will contribute as well.

Access To U.S. Rough Rice

The USRPA is committed to help U.S. rice farmers maintain the current 90 percent market share and therefore stands with the Mexican Rice Council in an effort to avoid another wave of low-priced Vietnamese rice into their market as was the case in 2014. Our current depressed market situation can be contributed to the government policies of southeast Asia and the subsequent dumping of cheap rice in the world market.

The USRPA still believes in listening to their customers in Mexico and will continue to work with the Mexican Rice Council to negotiate a satisfactory outcome for the TPP and help them obtain what they believe will allow continued, economically feasible access to U.S. rough rice.

Mexican Rice Council

As Pedro Schettino, President of the Mexican Rice Council stated, “The US Rice Producers Association understands our market and what it means to their farmers, and we greatly appreciate their support on all these vital issues.”

The USRPA continues to be the only national rice producers’ organization comprised of producers, elected by producers and representing producers in all rice-producing states.