California rice farmer Charley Matthews Jr. remembers the excitement when Japan first started buying rice from the United States in 1993.

“It really helped rice prices here,” Matthews, chairman of the California Rice Commission, said. It was also the beginning of a learning experience for California growers. Until then, marketing rice was not about quality, “it was about how many sacks you could grow,” he said.

With 20 years of experience growing rice for Japan, California producers are hopeful the Trans-Pacific Partnership will open the market even more. Japanese negotiators are joining the latest round of TPP talks being held through July 25 in Malaysia.

California farmers grow 70 to 80 percent of the medium grain and nearly all the short grain rice in the U.S. On average, half of the crop is shipped overseas.

For more, see California rice farmers see golden opportunity in TPP

More from Western Farm Press

Farmer guilty of defending family with shotgun

Wrenching legacy of illegal marijuana farms

Can spinach proteins save the U.S. citrus industry?

Farmer risks life to stop fire

Ask questions at farmers’ markets

Agriculture apocalypse just around bend, again

Ag and sexual assault: Get your facts straight, Frontline

Herbicide drift: How to avoid it