Texas Cuba Trade Alliance (TCTA) Hosts Virtual Meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres

Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the US Rice Producers Association and Bianka Rodriguez, Marketing & Western Hemisphere Promotions Director, participated in the Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance (TCTA) virtual meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres on Monday morning.

The meeting was moderated by Ricardo Arias, Trade Development Manager at the Port of Houston. Lianys Torres, Cuban Ambassador to the United States, and Rodney Gonzalez, Cuban Embassy Official, updated the audience on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cuba. Torres commented that Havana's population will be fully vaccinated by July and is expecting the whole country to be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. With such promising results, leaders are also expecting the Havana International airport to open by the end of the year.  Torres also commented that Cuba will end its decades-old dual currency system and have a single unified exchange.

Among the topics discussed, an improved US-Cuba relationship was emphasized throughout, especially within the agricultural sector, saying that Texas has all the elements to continue with the agricultural relations.

Dwight Roberts, USRPA President & CEO has been an active board member of the TCTA since its inception and is considered the first organization formed to address agriculture issues with Cuba in the U.S.

Rice Consumption in Colombia

This week, the National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs (ANDI) reached out to the US Rice Producers Association for support in its fight to protect the current nutritional labeling regulations for rice and protest the proposed adjustment to the recommended portion size of rice in labeling.

Colombia notified the OMC (World Trade Organization) and other trading partners, the interest of issuing the resolution which "establishes the technical regulation on the nutritional labeling requirements for packaged foods for human consumption must comply with" in Colombia and proposes to reduce the recommended portion of rice from 50 grams to 30 grams.

Colombia's economy is the third-largest in Latin America and has continued to grow in recent years due to sound economic policies, recent reforms, and a proliferation of free trade agreements (FTAs). With an annual rice consumption of around 40 kg per capita, according to the Colombian government, reducing the recommended portion would be equivalent to having a per capita consumption of 11 kg. Such a drastic change would put the consumers and the Colombian and U.S. rice sector at great risk. The USRPA supported the efforts of ANDI through letters that outlined the nutritional benefits of including rice in the everyday diet.

USRPA Kicks off Mexico Digital Campaign

The US Rice Producers Association, to continue the conversation that U.S. rice is nutritious and economical, recently kicked off its established digital media campaign for 2021 in Mexico. The digital campaign consists of the creation of digital content such as video recipes, mini rice facts memes, live content, and more shared on Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign features content created by Melissa Morelos, professional chef, influencer, and finalist of Master Chef Mexico, Chef Ismael Zhu, influencer, TV chef and winner of Master Chef Mexico, Pablo Marti, Chef, influencer, surfer, finalist of Master Chef Mexico and current contest of the reality TV show "Survivor," and Leon Michel, actor and TV host. Our team of content creators are sharing various recipes using U.S. long-grain rice as the main ingredient.

The USRPA Facebook fan page of “Consume Arroz USA,” currently has 18,600 followers and 1,800 followers on Instagram. Likes, positive comments, and shares from followers on the various recipes, videos, nutritional and cooking tips, are spreading the message that U.S. long-grain rice can create simple, delicious, nutritious, and economical everyday meals!

The campaign will continue throughout the year on social media, always emphasizing the message of including U.S. long-grain rice in their everyday diet.

USRPA Attended the Virtual Mexico Micro-Regional Conference

This week, Bianka Rodriguez, USRPA Marketing & Western Hemisphere Promotions Director along with Grace Wang, USRPA Eastern Hemisphere Promotions Director, and FAS Officers and Cooperators attended the Virtual Mexico Micro-Regional Conference. The Mexico Micro-Regional conference – General Strategic Planning consisted of a two-hour program moderated by Erick Kuss, Director of Agricultural Trade Office, ATO, Mexico City. Holly Higgins, Rhiannon Elms, and Daniel Alvarado, Paul Trupo, and Karisha Kuypers were part of the selected group of speakers. The session focused on updating Posts’ analysis of the market’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and ended with shared action items.

US Rice Producers Association is proud to have close working relationships with Post throughout the world.

USRPA and ARRZOGUA Leaders in Rice Sales Promotions

USRPA and ARROZGUA's team of chef promoters kicked off 2021 right by sharing their expertise with local importers of American rice. Essentially, our chefs are providing training to the sales and promotions teams of companies who import U.S. long-grain rice on how to prepare live demonstrations, cook long grain rice and keep the audience engaged while providing information on the benefits of consuming U.S. long-grain rice. These private company teams will continue to spread the message that U.S. long-grain rice is not only tasty but easy to prepare, economical, and nutritious, allowing the message to spread farther and faster in supermarkets throughout the country.

The first training took place on January 13, 2021, at ARROZGUA's facilities with Agroindustrias Albay, the country's second-largest importer of U.S. long-grain rice. Overall, Guatemala is expected to import 95,000 MT of paddy rice. USRPA and Arrozgua look forward to this collaboration to promote U.S. long-grain rice in Guatemala and will continue to schedule training in the weeks to come.

USRPA Maintains Relationships in China

USRPA continues to ship a variety of rice samples to Chinese customers in an effort to maintain our long-standing relationship with the market. The company that recently received samples along with USRPA branded gifts posted the rice on social media, thanking USRPA for support.  

Happy Anniversary to the US Rice Producers Association!

Rice Farmers Ready for 2021!

Today, December 18, 2020, marks the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the US Rice Producers Association. Today it’s impossible to not think of Mr. Jack Wendt, a Texas rice farmer and former President of the US Rice Council that was based in Houston, Texas, and a man who traveled the world promoting U.S. grown rice. He also made his share of trips to Washington, D.C. to remind Capitol Hill of the contribution made by rice farmers to our national food security in his genuine effort to feed the world.

While Jack grew more than 60 rice crops, he was an original member of the USRPA board of directors. Respected and known by everyone in the U.S. rice industry, Mr. Wendt played an instrumental role in the development of those original by-laws dated December 18, 1997. The same principals installed by Jack in 1997 ring true today- an organization comprised of producers, elected by producers, and representing rice producers in all rice-producing states.

The new rice association was told at the time the effort would never materialize, considered a group of “rebel farmers” who will not last. Someone forgot to tell folks like Mr. Wendt, Raymond Franz, Hal Koop, Sonny Martin, Penn Owen and Rex Morgan apparently. These gentlemen stood by their principals and always spoke as if 1,000 rice farmers were listening over their shoulders. Just like Ray Stoesser!

Over the years change became inevitable and while the USRPA developed unique relationships with the most important markets and the buyers for long-grain rice, it is satisfying to know that these men had so much to do with our current day leadership in the US rice industry.

Comments written last month by the leadership of the USA Rice Federation apparently confirm what these men knew all along.

“All of those issues are long gone and most of the people involved are not around anymore.”

“The leadership on the USA Rice board & committees has changed and the attitude and philosophy has changed.”

“That might have been the case 20 years ago and now is far from the truth.”

Looking back over the past 23 years, this has to be the biggest accomplishment of the USRPA- raising awareness and creating change for the better.

Congratulations to all of you who have been involved in this process and continue to represent rice farmers. 2021 will bring new challenges but like has been the case for the past 23 years, they will be met. After all 2020 has taught us that farmers are officially “essential.”

Pictured above are Mr. Jack Wendt (November 4, 1922 – February 22, 2013) with his wife Billie (who passed away in October 2020) and their daughters, attending an event in his honor at Texas A&M University. Jack Wendt received numerous awards for his exemplary leadership and assistance in forming a Texas Rice Research Foundation.

USRPA Participates in International Promotion Planning Conference

This week over two days all USRPA staff participated in an international promotion planning conference with the USA Rice Federation and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. At the conference USRPA on behalf of rice farmers presented results of the organization’s 2020 efforts and its proposals for 2021 activities to promote sales of U.S. rice abroad.

USRPA for decades has successfully executed international activities promoting exports of U.S. rice, and our efforts in 2020 continued this trend of deepening and widening market access for U.S. rice farmers to sell rice. This has only been possible with the support of U.S. government promotion funding through the Market Access Program administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. 2020 activities included promotion at the point of sale such as cooking demonstrations, website and social media campaigns providing recipes, MasterChef videos, live online rice cooking classes, distinct regional market webinars, Zoom sessions, and conference calls convening key industry stakeholders to promote trade servicing.

In 2021 USRPA will look to increase its international promotion budget through doubling down on efforts related to advertising, contests, and other market expansion strategies. Through online courses, culinary seminars, in-store cooking demonstrations, sponsorship of TV cooking programs, and the continued rollout of USRPA’s highly sophisticated website and social media campaign, USRPA continues to be the only national rice organization dedicated to promoting all forms of U.S. rice exports, with a special focus on promoting farm-direct marketing. USRPA has only one interest: empowering U.S. rice farmers to increase sales. USRPA remains resolute in its interest to promote U.S. rice sales worldwide and will pursue every opportunity available to continue the successful trends of market expansion this organization has championed for over 20 years.

USRPA Congratulate at Hami Group’s New Product Press Release

(Ha’erbin, China) On December 12, 2020, the Regional Rice Pavilion Longping Daohuaxiang Project - new product launch conference of Hami Group was held in Harbin. Leaders of the rice industry from various provinces and cities across China, grain industry associations, scientific research institutions, e-commerce platforms, city partners, and sales companies, as well as rice processing companies and rice cooperatives in Northeast China attended the press conference. The audience witnessed the new brand and technology demonstration of Hami Group's Hami Love brand and the collaboration of Longping Daohuaxiang project.

Yuan Longping, the father of hybrid rice and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the US Rice Producers Association, and the National Japonica Rice Engineering Technology Research Center warmly congratulated the press conference.

ATO Monterey and USRPA Collaborate on Virtual Cooking Classes in Mexico

The first Facebook lives cooking class featuring American long-grain rice was broadcast on September 25th in a project led by the USRPA in collaboration with USDA through ATO Monterrey. Overall, eleven recipes were presented throughout the month of October.

Chef Valeria Ochoa taught viewers to prepare Yakimeshi, a traditional dish in Asian cuisine, easily adapted to use American long-grain rice. The live event was attended by 637 users with continuous interaction and questions with Chef Ochoa addressing as many as she could while reiterating the versatility and nutritional value of American long rice.

To this date, the recorded cooking class has more than 5,500 views on Facebook the CONSUME ARROZ USA profile with many followers proudly sharing photos of their own results.