Like most of 2020 you can expect the unexpected. The last time a large volume of U.S. rice was exported to Brazil was in 2002/2003 when 342,000 tons (milled basis) was sold to the largest rice-producing and consuming country in the Western Hemisphere. The variety known as Cocodrie was a common southern long-grain at the time. Due to a set of circumstances brought about by the coronavirus and climatic conditions, a shortage of rice in Brazil is a serious matter for government officials as they address food security issues in the country. This week in the Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana, rice farmers of the South Louisiana Rail Facility (SLRF) are making their own history as they truck rice into the port’s bulk grain facility for a shipment of 30,000 tons.
A member of the US Rice Producers Association, the SLRF has become an important entity in the rough rice export market during its brief history as an organization. “It has not been easy but this group of farmers has not let a number of obstacles get in their way,” says Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the USRPA, adding, “They just go around them and make it happen.”
After severe damage by two hurricanes, while dodging COVID-19 interruptions throughout the growing season, SLRF organized shipments to Mexico, Honduras and Brazil during 2020. A second 30,000 ton vessel for Brazil is expected to load the first week in November. Brazil recently announced suspending import tariffs on corn, soybeans and by-products to alleviate shortages and high prices just as the government had previously done for rice imports.
Earlier this year the SLRF farmers announced plans to construct a rice mill in the Lacassine Industrial Park on property maintained by the rail facility in a partnership with India-based Agreeta Farmer Network.