• Trump Trade Team Locked and Loaded with Lighthizer

    by Michael Klein | May 12, 2017
    He knows Mexico is #1 for rice
    ITP-Trump Trade Team Locked and Loaded with Lighthizer-170512

    President Trump’s trade team was rounded out yesterday when the man at the top, Robert Lighthizer, was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the U.S. Trade Representative.

    Ambassador Lighthizer hits the ground running with a long list of To-Do items, perhaps most notably overseeing the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a process that could get underway as early as next week with a formal notification to Congress of his intent to reopen the sprawling deal.

    Lighthizer’s views on free trade and agriculture that emerged during his confirmation process did much to reassure the ag sector, upset by what many perceived as reckless rhetoric on trade coming out of the White House.

    When asked if the needs of farmers and ranchers could be protected during any tinkering with  NAFTA, Lighthizer responded: “I do believe it can be done. I’m not suggesting that it will be easy, but I do believe it can be done.”

    “We welcome Ambassador Lighthizer to his new position and trust that any renegotiation of NAFTA will adhere to the guiding principle of ‘First do no harm,’” said Betsy Ward, President and CEO of USA Rice.  “Mexico remains our top export market and Canada our fourth.  That is because of NAFTA, not in spite of it.”

    Other issues awaiting Lighthizer include a 100 day trade program with China that, at this time, does not look to include U.S. rice, a possible opening up of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement from which rice was excluded in 2007, and a stepped up emphasis on enforcement of existing trade deals and rooting out bad actors as emphasized by President Trump on the campaign trail and since.

  • USA Rice, How Tweet It Is!

    by Michael Klein | Jan 30, 2017
    She does now
    Tweet about US Rice in Canada

    Would you be able to convey the ways you love to use rice in 140 characters or less?  Canadian social media influencers did just that in an exchange of more than 2,600 rice-related tweets in just one hour!  @USARiceCan recently hosted a Twitter chat that encouraged Canadian online users to #ThinkRice by sharing tips, tricks, recipes and food memories about rice.

    Twitter lit up as rice was a trending topic in Canada during the meaningful exchange of tweets. Tip sharing was popular and the top tweet of the hour was a tip suggesting broth be used when cooking rice.

    During the Twitter chat, key rice nutrition, origin, and versatility messages were shared, and the newly re-designed Canadian website was promoted.  Recipe and nutrition links shared during the chat took users to the site at www.riceinfo.com, where they could enjoy an improved user experience.  Since the re-launch, visitors are spending more than double the amount of time on the site, and new ‘How To” rice videos featured on the site were also promoted.

    “Twitter chats, along with other social media activities, are essential to reaching an engaged audience,” says USA Rice Vice President of Marketing & Communications Michael Klein.  “More than 160,000 Twitter accounts were involved in the chat and more than 3 million impressions were generated.  Every connection we make provides us with another ‘U.S. rice ambassador’ – someone armed with perhaps new information about rice, an interesting fact or cooking tip – and each one is a new opportunity for U.S. rice.”

  • Canada’s Kids Get Cooking with U.S. Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 10, 2017
    Think rice, eh?
    TORONTO, CANADA – In an effort to capture the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s chefs and consumers, USA Rice conducted two Think Rice cooking competitions here, one for high school students and the other for elementary students enrolled in an after-school program.

    The St. Michael Catholic Secondary School boasts a state-of the-art kitchen, where approximately 120 students were taught rice culinary skills over several weeks leading up to the competition.  Thanks to the generous donation of brown rice from Terry Henderson at Dainty Foods, a major U.S. rice importer and the largest supplier of private label rice in the country, the students were able to experiment making multiple recipes.  

    Four teams of four students competed in front of an esteemed panel of judges that included the Mayor and other politicians, a reporter, and local cookbook celebrity, Rose Reisman.  The Brown Rice Burrito claimed first place, however, all the students received gifts and a grand prize was awarded to the school to be used in their nutrition program.  Following the competition, Reisman gave a one hour seminar to 100 students on U.S. rice as an important food and culinary ingredient.

    The elementary student culinary competition, “Wrap Up with Rice,” required participants to complete a rice project and cook with rice several times a week in preparation for a live demonstration in front of judges, school staff, chefs, and nutritionists.  The winning team created a Cheeseburger Rice Pie while the runners up created Vegetable Rice Pizza, and a Classic Baked Risotto.  

    “Both groups of students talked about the pressure and the fun of competing, and how nervous and excited they were cooking in front of the judges,” said Pereina Choudhury, USA Rice’s consultant in Canada.  “It’s been encouraging to see the enthusiasm and creativity of these students, and also how receptive they are to our messages about the versatility, healthiness, and superb quality of U.S. rice.”

  • Wrap Up With Rice Student Competition Nourishes Minds

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 16, 2015
    First place winners - $600 buys a lot of rice!
    Canada Student-Competition
    TORONTO, CANADA – U.S. brown rice was on the minds and in the hands of Toronto high school students during the 2015 Wrap Up With Rice culinary competition that took place last month at the Loblaws® Cooking School at Maple Leaf Gardens.

    USA Rice Director for International Promotion Sarah Moran said, “USA Rice participates in this event as a means to put rice into the hands of culinary educators to familiarize students with U.S.-grown rice, its health benefits, and applicability as a versatile and affordable cooking ingredient.  Inspiring the students and teachers to participate in the competition was r-icing on the cake!”

    Three teams of four students each created a brown rice recipe in front of a seven-member judging panel, including media influencers, two of Canada’s top chefs, and key members from both the Toronto District School Board and the Breakfast for Learning charity.  

    Moran said, “The students worked well under pressure even as judges and television cameras invaded their work stations.  Selecting a winning team was tough with the first and second place teams’ only two points apart.”

    The Grand Prize was awarded to the team from Central Tech Institute for their Fiesta Tomato, Corn, and Rice Soup.  Second place was a Mexican Chicken and Rice Fiesta recipe created by Thistletown Collegiate Institute, and the team from Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute took third with their Cilantro and Lime Brown Rice Steak Wrap.

    The Wrap Up With Rice event was part of feed tomorrow, a week-long program dedicated to raising awareness and money to help feed Toronto school children and nourish hungry minds.

  • Canada Requests Retaliation in COOL Case

    by User Not Found | Jun 17, 2015
    Rice in the WTO crosshairs
    WTO Flag
    GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Canada today reportedly asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) for permission to retaliate against the United States because of the U.S. country-of-origin labeling regulation (COOL) on certain muscle cuts of meat.  Press reports indicate that Canada’s request to impose almost $2.5 billion in additional tariffs on imports from the United States was immediately challenged by the U.S. representative at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).  This objection moved the dispute to an arbitration panel, which has up to 60 days to decide on the level of retaliation that Canada can apply.  

    “Today’s action underscores the need for the U.S. Congress to reform the COOL regulation,” said Betsy Ward, USA Rice President and CEO.  “The U.S. has lost multiple WTO challenges to COOL by Canada and Mexico, and Canada has taken the long-expected next step towards retaliation”

    Canada is targeting a cross section of imports from the United States for retaliatory duties, including a duty of 100 percent on U.S. rice.  The duty is currently zero.  Mexico is also threatening retaliation, but has not published a list of imports subject to increased duties.  Mexico was reportedly not able to request retaliation today because the country only late last week revised upward its retaliation request to $713 million.  The next meeting of the DSB is June 29.

    USA Rice is an active participant in the COOL Reform Coalition whose goal is to bring the United States into compliance with WTO decisions on COOL.  “Canada and Mexico are in the driver’s seat, and it’s critical that the Senate follow the House lead and reform COOL,” said Ward.  The House voted 300-131 on June 10 to repeal portions of the COOL regulation successfully challenged by Canada and Mexico.

  • USA Rice and Coalition Urge COOL Reform

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 10, 2015
    Still not COOL with Canada
     Still not COOL with Canada
    OTTAWA, CANADA - USA Rice joined 108 other agriculture and food businesses on a letter to Member of Congress today urging support for H.R. 2393, a bipartisan bill to reform the controversial Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations.
    The World Trade Organization (WTO) has consistently ruled against the United States on the COOL regulation, most recently on May 29, paving the way for legal tariff retaliation by Canada, Mexico, and other countries.  
    The Canadian government here issued a preliminary list of targeted commodities and foods, and rice is at the top with a 100 percent tariff threatened.
    "If Congress doesn't fix COOL to bring it into compliance with our international obligations, the cost to American business will be staggering, and the rice industry could take a significant hit," said Betsy Ward, President & CEO of USA Rice.
    According to the coalition letter, retaliatory tariffs could total more than $3.5 billion in just the first year.
    A vote on the bill, the Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 is expected in the House this week.  The Senate is yet to act on the issue.
    Canada is the fourth largest market for U.S. rice, with imports last year valued at $185 million.
  • WTO Rules Against COOL

    by User Not Found | May 18, 2015
    WTO: No flag waving
    COOL Regulation, US-Canada-Mexico
    WASHINGTON, DC -- This morning, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body made public its ruling on the United States' Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulation on certain muscle cuts of meat, citing that the regulation violates international trade rules and has caused harm to Canada and Mexico, which complained to the WTO.
    The ruling could result in retaliation against the United States through import tariffs if the labeling doesn't end.  House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) is currently working on legislation in conjunction with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) which would repeal the COOL regulation for beef and pork exports and bring the U.S. back into WTO compliance.  
    Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS) has indicated that the Committee will be considering all options but has not yet committed to using legislation repealing COOL as a solution.  
    "The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider any option, including repeal regarding meat, that will allow the United States to be WTO-compliant and avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico," Roberts said in a statement. "We'll do whatever it takes to protect the livelihood of American farmers, ranchers, and industries that will be targeted by retaliation."
    "Today's decision is the third by a WTO body that has gone against the United States," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings. "It's time for the United States to bring COOL regulations into compliance with our WTO obligations, and we support efforts in Congress to achieve this common sense goal." 
    Cummings continued, "Canada and Mexico are among the top five export markets for U.S. rice and we are very concerned about possible retaliation, perhaps by the end of this year, by these governments against exports of U.S. rice." 
    Contact:  Peter Bachmann (703) 236-1475