- Considering the size of China’s prospering, rice-eating class, the U.S. rice industry stands to gain a massive market.
So, APHIS was writing letters to the Chinese. Did you run into any resistance from them or was it more bureaucracy to run through?
“It was a lot of bureaucracy. They had to go through the motions and decide they’d do a pest-risk assessment. We’d already sent information over there through APHIS – Dr. Mo Way from Texas A&M wrote up the information for the assessment in the South. Others from UC-Davis wrote up the information for California.
“So, the Chinese had that information and it was a question of how long it would take them to move on it.
“But when I was last in Beijing, on June 14, the APHIS folks told me they’d finished the risk assessment. I said ‘Well, we’ve got a proposal ready to bring a Chinese delegation to the States. We want to show them how safe everything is, show them farms and mills.’
“I was told ‘they’re ready because they’ve said it’s time for a site visit.’
“APHIS sent a letter to the Chinese with the invitation. The next week, they accepted. I’ve since worked on the agenda with the APHIS national trade director and proposed some dates. They’re headed here in September.”
On the delegation’s make up…
“We’ll have an interpreter, an APHIS employee out of Beijing. She’s not only a scientist but she’ll be able to talk in specifics and on technical issues. You need the right kind of interpreter for this – technical terms can be tricky.
“There will be three Chinese government officials from AEQSIQ (The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine), kind of like their version of APHIS. Two importers will also be on the trip -- they’ll meet up with us in Sacramento. With the interpreter, that’ll be six folks.
“So, it just fell into place. It seems to be on the fast track, now.”
On how the Chinese put together their delegation…
“The importers are people we asked to participate. The people with the JUSCO let us do the store surveys. They’re very interested to see the U.S. rice industry – everything from the farms to the mills and lawmakers.
“It’ll be good to have the importers along with the Chinese government representatives. Obviously, they want to import our rice and we want to provide it. The Chinese reps should see enthusiasm for this from both sides.
“We’ll show them everything, let them kick the tires, and answer all their questions. Hopefully, we’ll get a good response. I think we will.”