Nathan W. Childs, senior rice market analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service, spoke at the 2010 USA Rice Outlook Conference. Childs reported that USDA estimates the average U.S. rice yield decreased 6 percent this year compared to last year, primarily due to record high nighttime temperatures and other problems that impacted most of the Southern crop.

The high temperatures also resulted in an estimated average milling yield of just 67.5 percent, the lowest reported milling rate since USDA began reporting milling rates in the 1960-1961 crop year. USDA projections also show only modest growth in rice imports this year.

Childs told attendees that the global rice market in 2011-2012 is likely to experience a small increase in yields, slightly higher production, and record consumption largely driven by population growth. USDA also expects higher U.S. production costs and a substantial decline in U.S. long-grain area and production in 2011-12, Childs said. USDA's out-year projections assume normal weather and no changes in global or domestic trade policies. USDA will release its first official forecasts for 2011-12 in February.