• End in Sight for Colombia’s Restrictions on U.S. Paddy

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 13, 2017
    Not much standing in the way
    ARLINGTON, VA -- It’s been a long journey with too many delays, but the government of Colombia looks close to removing longstanding import restrictions on U.S. paddy.  Colombian plant health officials have acknowledged to their U.S. counterparts that the fungal disease Tilletia Horrida is present in Colombia.  The presence of this disease in U.S. rice country has been used as an excuse by Colombia to restrict imports of U.S. rough rice to only the port of Barranquilla and processing in surrounding mills, and to require fumigation of the cargo before shipment.  

    “This discovery removes the scientific basis for Colombia’s current import restrictions,” said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.  “Colombian officials should now take this evidence from their own study and move forward to remove the restrictions.”  

    U.S. officials have told USA Rice that Colombia will review and revise the import regulations on U.S. paddy, with estimated completion this summer.  

    “The U.S. rice industry will continue to support and assist U.S. officials in Washington and Bogota in what we see as the final push to open fully the market in Colombia as soon as possible,” concluded Cummings.

    Since the enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, Colombia has emerged as a consistent and strong market for, primarily, U.S. long grain milled and paddy rice.  Sales in 2016 were 139,985 MT valued at $58.2 million.  The trade agreement provides for an increasing amount of U.S. rice to enter Colombia under annual duty-free tariff rate quotas (TRQ) until Colombia’s import duties phase out completely in 2030.  In 2017, 98,448 MT of U.S. rice can enter duty free; rice imports over that amount pay an 80-percent duty.   

    As an added benefit, state rice research boards receive one-half of the revenue received from auctioning off import licenses under each year’s TRQ.  In 2016, more than $13 million was distributed to the six rice states to support research.

  • A Week in Washington with Colombia Film Crew includes U.S. Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 30, 2016
    Click here to view video
    WASHINGTON, DC – A production crew with SaborUSA, a marketing campaign in Colombia that promotes U.S. food and beverages and American culture, spent a week traveling around the Washington, DC, area this fall filming segments for their popular TV cooking show “I ♥ SaborUSA.”

    The TV show is the flagship of a marketing campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and hosted by Karina Correa, a bilingual restauranteur and food blogger.  Each episode has a different theme such as holidays, exercise, healthy eating, and U.S. regional cuisine.  In addition, the marketing campaign also links the TV show with an interactive website, smartphone application, and social media.

    USA Rice caught up with Correa and her crew at Rosa Mexicano, located in Washington’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.  While Correa went behind the scenes in the kitchen with sous chef Francisco Pablo to help prepare a dish using U.S. rice, Mike Conlon, Counselor at USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs in Bogota, Colombia, talked about the integration of U.S. food products with Colombian cuisine.    

    “Colombia is the largest market for U.S. food products in South America,” said Conlon.  “People in Colombia love rice; it’s a staple of their diet.”  U.S. rice is showcased in this edition of the multi-media marketing campaign offering viewers new recipes and exciting ways to incorporate it into the Colombian consumers’ daily life.

    SaborUSA, a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service-led Global Broadbased Initiative (GBI) with 20 cooperators, is growing in popularity in Colombia.  The segment featuring U.S. rice was uploaded to “I Love SaborUSA” on YouTube on October 28 and within the month received more than 180 views.
  • 2017 Tender Schedule for Colombia Announced

    by Colleen Klem | Aug 15, 2016
    U.S. rice is a popular commodity
     ITP- Colombia Tender

    ARLINGTON, VA—Earlier this month the COL-RICE board adopted a schedule for open tenders for 2017 in connection with U.S. rice exports to Colombia.  Exporters of U.S. rice will have the opportunity to sell 98,448 metric tons (milled rice equivalent, MRE) next year under terms of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.  This amount, called a tariff rate quota, is 4.5 percent higher than the 2016 level.  “Colombia has emerged as a significant export market for U.S. rice, and the trade agreement is the primary reason,” said Carl Brothers, vice chair of the COL-RICE board and COO of Riceland Foods, Inc., Stuttgart, AR.  Here is the 2017 tender schedule:

    Colombia Rice Export Quota, Inc. (COL-RICE) 2017 Tender Schedule

    Bid Date

    Quantity Available (MRE)

    Percentage of annual Quota

    Shipping Period

    January 30

    68,940 mt


    February 1 – June 30

    June 1

    14,331 mt


    July1 – October 12

    October 12

    15,197 mt


    October 13 – December 31


    Shipments of U.S. rice under the TRQ are not assessed Colombia’s 80 percent import duty.  Exporters bid for duty-free import certificates, and half of the net revenue from the tenders is returned to the six state rice research boards to fund basic rice research.  “COL-RICE returned $17.8 million in research funds to the states last year,” said Brothers.  The other half of net revenue is returned to Fedearroz, Colombia’s association of rice producers.

    “While our growers, millers and exporters continue to benefit from this trade agreement, the U.S. COL-RICE members continue to push the Colombian and U.S. governments and our partners in Colombia for a more even distribution of tenders throughout the year so that we can consistently make deliveries to Colombia each day of the year,” concluded Brothers. 

  • Chef Competitions Bring the Heat in Colombia

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jul 20, 2016
    Grand prize winners
    COLOMBIA -- Last week, more than 130 Colombian chefs participated in the second annual Cocina Viva professional chef competitions here hosted by USA Rice, the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, and the Kansas Soybean Commission.  

    A jury that included the vice president of the Latin America Federation of Gastronomy and the director of the Colombian Association of Chefs narrowed down the competition to 40 chefs in four regional competitions held in Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla.  The finalists competed against one another, preparing a main course using traditional or modern techniques, but always using American rice and poultry as the primary ingredients.

    “I was very excited about the friendly competition this morning,” said Federico Trujilo Uribe, the first place winner in Medellín.  “Congratulations to the wonderful organizations and I am happy to be a part of this marvelous campaign.”

    “Cocina Viva is a unique way to spread the word about the versatility and good taste of U.S. rice,” said Brian King, chairman of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere Subcommittee.  “By targeting chefs, we are able to influence their recipe development which will then impact hundreds of their customers.  It’s a cost effective way to target a large number of people.”  

    Last year, Colombia was the United States’ third largest export market bringing in nearly 330,000 MT of U.S. rice, valued at approximately $150 million.  In the first five months of this year, the U.S. has exported over 100,000 MT to Colombia, valued at over $40 million, making Colombia the United States’ sixth largest rice export market this year.  On average, 30-40 percent of U.S. rice exports to Colombia are in paddy form.
  • Arkansas Hosts Colombia’s Fedearroz Delegation

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jun 23, 2016
    Dow Brantley (left) leads a tour
    of his on-farm drying facility
    ENGLAND, AR – Representatives of Fedearroz, the rice producers’ association of Colombia, continued their U.S. visit yesterday with a visit to the rice farm of USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley here.  

    Fedearroz’s Elkin Flores and José Barón were impressed by many aspects of Brantley’s large farming operation including corn, soybean, and rice fields.

    “They were particularly impressed by the on-farm drying and storage capabilities we have,” Brantley said.  “I get the sense these aren’t common in Colombia at all.  And with their average farm size of 42 acres, and the vast majority being smaller than 24 acres, that’s understandable.”

    In addition to the economy of scale advantage U.S. growers have, Flores and Barón also commented on the high interest rates Colombian farmers face – as much as three percent per month – and the lack of a government-sponsored safety net for farmers.

    “I shared with them about my trip to Colombia earlier this month, and told them that USA Rice looks forward to working with them on the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for rice, and in particular to help them meet what appear to be significant domestic demands that are outside of the TRQ,” Brantley said.

    The delegation also met with officials at the USDA NASS offices in Little Rock during the trip and will return to Colombia later this week.
  • USA Rice Trade Mission to Colombia: Part One

    by Michael Klein | Jun 10, 2016
    Where would you expect to find USA Rice members?  The rice aisle, of course!
    USA Rice members in the rice aisle

    BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- This week, USA Rice is leading a trade mission of U.S. rice farmers, millers, and merchants to meet with the trade and with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service here to talk about the Colombian market and the positive effects of the Free Trade Agreement which moved Colombia from our 51st largest export market in 2011 to our third largest in 2015.  Ambassador Kevin Whitaker also spoke to the group about Colombia being one of the highest capacity and strongest partners for the U.S in the Americas.

    "It is really heartening to see what a well-executed free trade agreement can do for our industry," said Kevin McGilton of Riceland Foods, who is traveling with the mission.  "But there are still challenges that remain in this market and we are here to hopefully make some progress."

    The group met with Fedearroz, the rice growers association of Colombia, to discuss production in both the U.S. and Colombia, the effects of the "emergency decree" of up to 200,000 MT this year, and the U.S. industry's appreciation of the Colombian market.  A review of the limits placed on imports of paddy rice due to the fungus 
    Tilletia horrida, and the slow progress on completing a survey of the local rice production areas for the presence/absence of the fungus, and restrictions on the timing of import license auctions and delivery periods are also being discussed during the mission.

    The USA Rice delegation visited an in-store demonstration at Jumbo, a Chilean hypermarket with eighty stores in Colombia.  This is the first time USA Rice has conducted in-store demonstrations in Colombia and they are designed to help familiarize consumers here with the different types of U.S. rice on store shelves. The demo chef shared a variety of recipes and explained cooking characteristics, texture, and preparation techniques.

    The delegation then went to a Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional (HRI) sector culinary training event sponsored by USA Rice where seventy attendees learned the history of rice, methods for cooking rice, and received a hands-on demonstration.

    At the same time, Sabor USA, a USDA program that promotes U.S products, was filming a TV show about the four young chefs who won a USA Rice competition last year (see 
    USA Rice Daily June 29, 2015, "USA Rice Co-Sponsors Cooking Seminars in Colombia," and October 28, 2015, "USA Rice at Miami Trade Show").  The show will be broadcast in Colombia on Channel 13 in two weeks and also available on YouTube.

    "This trade mission has been very helpful in gaining a better understanding of the opportunities and demands of the Colombian market as well as giving us the opportunity to observe our new promotional program in this burgeoning market," said USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley.

  • Colombia to Import 200,000 New Metric Tons of Rice…But From Where?

    by Lee Brinckley | Jan 05, 2016
    U.S. rice to the rescue?
    BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Nearly one-third of Colombia’s provinces are in a state of emergency due to extreme drought caused by El Niño, prompting the Colombian government to allow additional rice imports to maintain adequate inventory.  

    On December 22, 2015, Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture published a decree stating that 200,000 MT of rice imported in 2016 would be from the Andean community and third countries, under existing tariffs.  This decree proposes to bring in tonnage above the United States’ 2016 TRQ allotment of 94,209 MT; however, these additional imports would be subject to the relevant duty (56 percent duty for Paraguay, 64 percent duty for Mercosur and 80 percent for the U.S., Thailand, and others).  The 80 percent duty for U.S. rice, coupled with the strength of the U.S. dollar, may create an opening for Thai rice in the near term to fill the Colombian short fall.
    “Colombia is our third largest market and with ample rice supplies in the current U.S. market, the U.S. is in a position to provide this additional rice to Colombia,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice vice president of international promotion.  “Imports of the Andean Community have historically been assigned to mills according to domestic harvest purchases; USA Rice is investigating whether this would occur with this allotment of 200,000 MT.”

    Guinn continued, “In addition, USA Rice is in regular dialog with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Bogotá as well as Fedearroz (Federation of Colombian Rice Producers) and Induarroz (Colombian Rice Industry) to make the strong case to buy U.S.-grown rice which has the quality and reliability they are seeking.”
  • USA Rice Briefs Grand Prairie Region Rice Farmers on Export Opportunities and Challenges

    by Colleen Klem | Aug 07, 2015

    Marvin LehrerLehrer leading a retail tour in Mexico in 2013

    STUTTGART, ARKANSAS – This week USA Rice’s Marvin Lehrer was the principal speaker at the annual RiceTec appreciation dinner held here at the Grand Prairie Center.  Nearly ninety local rice farmers attended the event to hear about the opportunities and challenges in moving rice to the key nearby markets of Mexico, Cuba, Central America, and Colombia.

    “Mexico remains the top market for U.S.-grown rice, but we need to focus on promoting U.S. rice as s a high quality, consistent, and safe product to ensure we hold on to our market share,” Lehrer said.

    Lehrer turned his attention to Cuba, an exciting market he knows well.

    “The Cuban market will take some time, but all the signs from Havana and Washington point to changes over the next several years that will result in U.S. rice again appearing in Cuban homes,” he said.  “USA Rice, bolstered by support from the industry, continues to lead efforts in that direction.”

    Discussing other markets in the region, Lehrer stated, “Colombia is a resounding success story and a great example of how well-executed trade agreements can create new, vibrant markets for us.”

    “We appreciate USA Rice’s strong efforts in opening markets, promoting our product and being with us to inform farmers of developments in the key export markets,” said Wes Long, District Sales Manager, RiceTec.

  • USA Rice Co-Sponsors Cooking Seminars in Colombia

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 29, 2015
    Chef Bernardo cooks for a packed house.
     Chef Bernardo cooks for a packed house

    BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- USA Rice recently hosted a seminar here, conducted by Executive Chef Bernardo Gomez Cortazar, focusing on the high quality and benefits of utilizing U.S. rice dishes and poultry products in food service.  More than 60 participants from the hotel and foodservice sector attended the interactive activity which took place at the prestigious Mario Moreno culinary academy, one of the best culinary schools in Latin America.

    The seminars were sponsored by USA Rice, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, and the United Soybean Board.  Similar seminars were conducted in Cali and Medellin. 

    "U.S. rice exports to Colombia have skyrocketed this year, making Colombia our number one export market on a milled rice basis," said Jim Guinn, USA Rice vice president of international promotion. 

    In the first four months of 2015, the U.S. has exported nearly 240,000 MT of rice, which is nearly 150,000 MT above the tariff rate quota (TRQ) for 2015.  Just four years ago, Colombia was our 51st largest export destination bringing in less than 5,000 MT of U.S. rice. 

    Guinn added, "After the successful conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and the establishment of an Export Trading Company to manage the licenses to import U.S. rice into Colombia under the TRQ, Colombia has been one of our top export markets."