Trade barriers affecting rice industry

26.07.2018

The U.S. Agriculture Department says it will spend $12 billion to help farmers hurt by the president's trade policies.  

The short-term aid plan will provide direct payments to producers of corn, cotton, dairy, soy, cotton and sorghum.

The government will also buy surplus products such as nuts, fruits, rice, dairy, pork, chicken and beef and distribute the goods to food banks and government assistance programs.

The USDA will also launch a program to promote trade to new markets.  

The decision has drawn mixed reactions from Congress.

President Trump has told farmers to "stick with him" through short-term pain, as he negotiates trade deals he believes are fair.  

Farmers across the country are concerned about the tariffs.

Allen Lawson, a local rice producer and farmer says their markets are hard fought.  

Lawson says, "If we get into a tariff situation with a country that's currently importing our products, there may be another country in line to take that, to take our place."

John Morgan, Vice President at Supreme Rice, says there's more to trade barriers than just tariffs. They have what's called phytosanitary protocols which is essentially how the rice is graded and traded into the country. The U.S. and China cannot agree on those protocols.  

"It's not so much a tariff thing it's more of a how do you trade with each other and what is acceptable and not acceptable and a lot of countries around the world use that process to really slow trade or hamper trade," Morgan explains.  

Morgan adds the tariffs are a tool to block trade.  

"Rice faces these type of barriers all around the world," Morgan says.

Lawson says he understands the tariffs and what that will mean for his rice production.

"I know that where we're headed with them— fair trade but it's just not.. probably not gonna be that smooth of a transition," says Lawson.

Lawson adds anything rice farmers can do to get access into foreign markets and fair trade is the right thing to do.  


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