On what opening of Chinese rice markets could mean to U.S. farmers…

“Remember, there are 1.3 billion rice-eating Chinese. They could eat every grain of rice produced in the United States in 17 days. We could ship them all of our rice and it would last them just over two weeks.

“They want high-quality milled rice. We’re talking about packaging the rice here and shipping it over there.

“It’ll sell at a premium price if the quality is high enough. That’s what the surveys show and what people say to me when I’m over there.

“And 100 percent of the folks in the surveys say vitamin-enriched rice is important. (Such) rice isn’t required by other countries. But it is required in the in the United States and that’s turned out to be a selling point for us.”

On U.S. mills’ reactions…

“I’m contacting and visiting the mills.

“I sat down with a mill’s staff yesterday and told them everything that is going on, the questions the Chinese delegation may ask.

“It’s also important that the farmers we visit during the tour will be able to answer the delegation’s questions; everything from planting to the care given to the crops.

“They’ve specifically requested to visit rice farms. Where we go will be kind of fluid. That’s because we want to visit while there’s harvesting going on. Obviously, the weather will also have an impact.

“We’ve also been in contact with crop consultants, scientists at the National Rice Research Center. The delegation is interested in talking to all of” the rice industry facets.

On funding of U.S. trade programs…

“APHIS and the FAS have been very, very helpful in facilitating this. They couldn’t have been better.

“This has already been a success, although the ultimate goal is to get market access for U.S. rice in China.

“But the (Emerging Markets Program) funds available through the U.S. government have worked just as they should have. This is exactly what they should be used for. We could not have done it without them.

“Also, let me tell you: the farmers on the U.S. Rice Producers board were forward-thinking. They approved these efforts from inception. This is a feather in their cap. Our first grant application came in 2006. Everyone said ‘yeah, let’s see if there’s a market in China. If there is, let’s get it opened.’”