LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- USDA’s latest rice supply and demand report confirmed what the market has been telling us: globally rice producers and governments are focused on expanding production. 2004/05 global production is estimated by USDA to be up 18.6 million milled metric tons or 4.8% over the last production period (U.S. production 7 million metric tons).

Domestically and globally rice producers are responding to improving rice prices, which are being driven by strong global economic conditions. With global rice consumption exceeding production, China, India, and many other governments also continue to take steps to assure adequate rice supplies.

For the 2004 marketing period USDA projects that U.S. rice producers will expand production by 12% over 2003/04, while foreign producers will expand their rice production by 4.7% or 17.9 million metric tons. 2004 U.S. long grain production is estimated by USDA to be up 10%, while medium and short grain production is estimated to be up 17.8% over 2003.

USDA projects U.S. all rice ending stocks at 27.7 million cwt 16.4 percent above 2003/04, long grain 9.4% above 2003/04 and medium and short grain 33% above 2003/04. USDA lowered their season-average farm price range for 2004/05 by $2.00 per cwt on each end to $6.25 to $6.75 per cwt compared to $7.45 per cwt for 2003/04. The lower price is being driven by expectations of weaker global prices and a narrowing of the price premium between U.S. and major competitors.

On the international side USDA indicates that world prices have continued to soften this month as demand has eased with China’s continued absence from the market. Thai 100B is currently quoted at $230 per ton, FOB, off $5 over the month. Viet prices have also weakened with increased supplies from the summer-autumn crop becoming available. Viet 5% is currently quoted at $228 per ton, FOB, easing $3 through the month. India’s 5% is steady at $255 per ton, FOB, as the government’s subsidy policy remains uncertain.

On the domestic side USDA states that with U.S. #2/4 long grain milled rice currently quoted at $406 per ton, FOB, the spread between U.S. and Thai prices has narrowed to $176 per ton compared to $193 last month. Price quotes for U.S. #1/4 medium grain milled rice from California are quoted at $430 per ton, bulk, ex-spout Sacramento.

A U.S. and global rice slide show is available at the following web address” http://www.aragriculture.org/agfoodpolicy/ricesitol/slides/Delta_Farm_Pr...

Coats is an agricultural policy analyst with the University of Arkansas.