Since December of 2017, the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) has conducted a series of meetings with the Central American Rice Federation (FECARROZ) in an effort to analyze the effects of full implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominica Republic to the rice industries of both the U.S. and Central America. Last month at the USA Rice Outlook Conference this process included a meeting between FECARROZ and USA Rice including representation of the USRPA.

This week in San Jose, Costa Rica all three groups met to continue discussions and a proposal submitted by FECARROZ last month. Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the USRPA was very clear in expressing what the second largest market for U.S. long grain rice means to U.S. farmers while stating, “as we understand the proposal from our customers in Central America, the USRPA supports the efforts of FECARROZ to help maintain this vital market”. Roberts added, “we realize there are some hurdles that need to be resolved and ironed out.”

The USRPA also announced their intention to have a third-party, independent U.S. contractor, conduct an economic impact study that will assist in the evaluation process. USA Rice agreed to this USRPA initiative. The leadership of FECARROZ was positive about the results of the meeting and are looking ahead to the next step as Mario Solorzano, President of FECARROZ from Guatemala stated, “we want to go forward with the next step and preparations for a meeting in late February or early March assuming we have done our homework in the meantime.”

The USRPA also met with Indarroz leadership and will be hosting this Costa Rican rice milling group at the National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, January 31-February 1st.