|On October 24th, 25th, and 26th, the Texas Rice Council in partnership with the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) hosted a large contingent of leaders in the Guatemalan rice industry. Owners and executive staff from 12 mills, as well as the Director of the national rice organization, ARROZGUA, made up the group. Nineteen men and women participated in the reverse trade mission.|
The group visited farmers across the rice growing area from Inez to China, TX. They enjoyed meeting farmers, inspecting the crop, and riding on a combine. Tours of on-farm and commercial drying and storage facilities showed how rice is dried to storable moisture and gave them insight into how the rice is identity-preserved and traceability is ensured. Visits to marketing offices showed another step in verifying the characteristics of the rice, its location, and the services marketing offices provide, such as price discovery, lien and title searches, and payouts, as they assist in making the sale of rice more efficient and effective. The trip culminated with a tour of the Hansen-Mueller facility at the Port of Houston. Once again, the group asked questions about traceability and received explanations of the efforts Hansen-Mueller takes to preserve the quality and integrity of the shipment.
In 2016, a group of Texas producers visited Guatemala to observe programs their rice check-off dollars helped fund to increase rice consumption and U.S. sales into the country. In 2019, when the Port of Houston opened the opportunity to ship rough rice, rice with the hull on it, talks began on selling Texas rice to Guatemala. Covid-19 put those efforts on pause. At the Rice Market and Technology Conference in Cancun, this year efforts resumed.
During their time in Texas, old friendships were strengthened, new friendships were made, and the common bond of helping to feed the world produced in-depth discussions of moving rice from Texas to Guatemala. Concerns millers had come to light as they experienced firsthand how the rice crop is cared for in Texas and they left with the knowledge that Texas is a source of high-quality identity-preserved rice.
Also on the trip, Curtis McCoy, Rice Marketing Specialist for the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), participated in the reverse trade mission. Texas rice producers’ promotion check-off dollars are pooled with promotion dollars from other states through the US Rice Producers Association, which is an independent cooperator with FAS, to promote the sale of U.S. rice, in all forms, around the world. Curtis enjoyed field visits with the farmers. He found very insightful the efforts made to protect the quality of the rice as it is dried and stored as well as the efforts to ensure traceability from the field to the vessel. Curtis felt the closeness of the relationships that have been developed over time between Texas farmers, USRPA staff, and leaders of the Guatemalan rice industry.
In closing, Texas rice farmers are appreciative of the expertise and relationships the staff of the US Rice Producers Association has with buyers of rice throughout the world. All business starts with good relationships. This reverse trade mission once again shows the money Texas rice farmers contribute toward promotion, education, and market development is being used effectively and efficiently.
|Some of the millers that visited Raymond Rabius’ Farm.|
Darryl Socha, General Manager of Rice Farmers Co-op, explains how they track the rice through the drying and storage process.
Tony Sanchez, Vice President of Operations at Rice Belt Warehouse walks the millers through how they preserve the identity of every lot of rice and ensure traceability.
|Diego Pivaral inspects grains of rice for clarity and imperfections.||Galen Franz visits with millers at his Inez farm location.|
Jake Pennington, General Manager at American Rice Growers, in Raywood, separates brokens from whole grain while determining the grade on a sample of Presidio. The variety the millers preferred.
|Josey Dishman, Chairman of the Texas Rice Producer Board, visits with Marcela Garcia, President and CEO of USRPA, and millers.|
Cris Brown, Export Merchandiser for Hansen-Mueller, discusses the services they provide to facilitate exporting rice to Guatemala.
|ARROZGUA presents USRPA CEO, Marcela Garcia, with a plaque celebrating 25 years of partnership.|