From: San Francisco Chronicle

Three Chinese inspectors took notes but offered no visible reaction as David Smith answered their questions about pesticides and production on the 3,000-acre rice farm he calls his "beautiful garden."

Smith is among the American farmers hoping to eventually sell rice to China. The fast-growing Asian nation is the world's largest producer of rice, but it consumes nearly everything it grows and already imports some rice from Thailand and Vietnam to feed its 1.3 billion people.

After years of effort, U.S. farmers believe they are close to getting permission to sell there as well, and it could be a game changer for an industry that has seen prices stagnate recently. If China opens its markets to U.S. rice, it could cause a spike in demand that drives up prices and encourages farmers to grow more, industry observers said.

The great hope is that as China's middle class becomes wealthier, its members will want to buy high-quality rice from the U.S. even if it's more expensive.

For more, see: China sales could be game changer for rice farmers