Volume 18, Issue 18
May 7, 2021
In This Issue:
  • Rice Market Slow as Christmas
  • Senate EPW Hearing, EPA Budget
  • Texas Cuba Trade Alliance (TCTA) Hosts Virtual Meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres
Rice Market Slow as Christmas
The cash market improved slightly this week as prices in the upper delta saw small gains. Meanwhile, cash prices in Texas and Louisiana continue to be stagnant and seem to be awaiting some market development that could shift sentiment. The more notable activity this week occurred in Chicago where rice prices finally experienced some positive price action. Considering the US Dollar Index (ICE) is down more than 6% from this time last year, it is about time for rice prices to react. In April alone, the US dollar had softened by more than 2%. The nearby contract jumped almost 4% this week as did the July. The others contracts all trended upward and open interest spiked 11% further indicating market improvement may lie ahead.

Due to lackluster sales to Haiti and the absence of Iraq to date, long grain export demand is down nearly 12% against the prior year. Without the relatively strong paddy shipments and sales this year, the return to grower could have been substantially lower, further exacerbating the rice for bean swap that is becoming so prevalent in 2021.

Rice growers made speedy progress this week as Arkansas’ progress jumped nearly 20% from last week and is now just 3% behind the average pace. The other delta states are all in line with historical trends as far as planting progress goes. As mentioned last week when California planting appeared extremely underreported, the USDA did make the necessary revision and is now pegging the state to be 40% complete.

The second wave of COVID-19 continues to ravage the country, forcing mass lockdowns. Most of the country’s states are all locked down except for a few peripheral states which are in partial lockdown mode. The B.1.617 variant is widely associated with the drastic spike in daily cases, now in excess of 300,000 per day. It is has officially impacted India’s rice industry as a bulk vessel carrying rice was forced to quarantine following one COVID fatality and several more on board testing positive. Further, India’s vaccine coverage is only 6% compared to the USA which is at 39% which means there is still a ways to go before India is in the clear.

Thai and Viet prices posted small gains this week while Myanmar and Paki prices both slipped some. Overall, the Asian export prices have remained in a relatively sideways pattern for the past month.
Senate EPW Hearing, EPA Budget
On Wednesday, April 28, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to discuss the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) discretionary funding request for Fiscal Year 2022. The discussion was largely focused on how the Agency will address water quality, contamination, and pollution issues within communities that already bear a disproportionate burden. Additionally, Committee Members raised questions about the intersection of the Agency’s priorities and the Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP), the role of biofuels and the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ways the Agency plans to address establishing Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) standards, regulating methane gas emissions, and the steps the Agency is taking to reach President Biden’s climate goals.

Several Members asked what EPA is doing to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities and how EPA’s budget proposal will assist those efforts. Members also discussed the low-income communities and communities of color that bear disproportionate impacts from Superfund sites, citing that 70 percent of Superfund sites are within one mile of federal assisted housing. Mr. Regan responded that both the proposed EPA budget and the AJP are critical. The EPA’s budget proposal includes grant applications, advanced monitoring for air and water quality, and additional funding to build up infrastructure to help uplift communities through equitable opportunities.

Members also highlight the benefits of low carbon biofuels and their role in reducing greenhouse gasses. Sen. Ernst noted the lack of substantial inclusion or support in the $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill and the 2030 emissions target. Mr. Regan responded that the President has been clear that agriculture is at the table and biofuels, and voluntary ag practices, have a role in reducing carbon emissions. Mr. Regan also highlighted his conversations with Secretary Vilsack around the promising future uses of biofuels and the role of ethanol in moving the United States forward. Several Members also discussed the benefits of renewable fuels and the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). There was concern that officials within this administration only talk about biofuels in the context of new fuels and new markets, such as aviation and marine fuels. Mr. Regan responded that agriculture is at the forefront when talking about the promising future of electric vehicles and advanced biofuels. Sen. Ernst specifically asked if corn ethanol would continue to have a role in the future. Mr. Regan said that he will continue to engage with stakeholders to determine what the evolution of ethanol will be and where the markets will lean to ensure the lowest carbon economy.

Another significant topic of discussion was the was the administration plans to meet the ambitious climate goals laid out by President Biden. Chairman Carper praised the ambitious climate goals of the Administration and asked about the importance of meeting these goals. Mr. Regan emphasized that it is crucial; not only to help the planet, but to create numerous opportunities in the job sector and allow the U.S. to be a leader in renewable energy job creation.

Sen. Inhofe raised significant concern about the Administration’s initiatives and the impact they will have on jobs across the country. Sen. Inhofe expressed his confusion as to why the Administration would push an effort that would hurt so many American jobs and encourage American companies to move overseas, while China is the largest polluter. Mr. Regan explained that the initiative of EPA and those within the AJP are not only an opportunity to mitigate the impact on the climate change, but also an opportunity to lead in technological advancement and create jobs. Mr. Regan explained that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are looking at regulations that pursue deep cuts in methane. Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) and menthane technologies will help the U.S. make these cuts, while creating jobs. The U.S. is also poised to deploy these technologies internationally. Sen. Inhofe was also concerned about the cost of employing these initiatives. Mr. Regan responded that he, and President Biden’s AJP, do not follow China, and they both see and treat the U.S. as a leader. Additionally, EPA has developed a range in how the U.S. plays in the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) level and will use cost-benefit analysis to determine which programs would work best once EPA’s budget has been set.

Sen. Inhofe also asked how Mr. Regan saw government regulation affecting U.S. businesses, expressing concern that it would cause an outflow of companies. Mr. Regan stated that the AJP is not just trying to mitigate climate change using regulations, but also work with the industry to create new technical jobs that mirror how the market is adapting as well as help reduce methane emissions.
Texas Cuba Trade Alliance (TCTA) Hosts Virtual Meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres
Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the US Rice Producers Association and Bianka Rodriguez, Marketing & Western Hemisphere Promotions Director, participated in the Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance (TCTA) virtual meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres on Monday morning.

The meeting was moderated by Ricardo Arias, Trade Development Manager at the Port of Houston. Lianys Torres, Cuban Ambassador to the United States, and Rodney Gonzalez, Cuban Embassy Official, updated the audience on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cuba. Torres commented that Havana's population will be fully vaccinated by July and is expecting the whole country to be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. With such promising results, leaders are also expecting the Havana International airport to open by the end of the year. Torres also commented that Cuba will end its decades-old dual currency system and have a single unified exchange.

Among the topics discussed, an improved US-Cuba relationship was emphasized throughout, especially within the agricultural sector, saying that Texas has all the elements to continue with the agricultural relations.
Dwight Roberts, USRPA President & CEO has been an active board member of the TCTA since its inception and is considered the first organization formed to address agriculture issues with Cuba in the U.S.
Embracing Change: Expecting the Unexpected
Dennis DeLaughter, Vantage RM Market Watch, will be opening RMTC 2021 as Key Note Speaker.

Covid-19 may not have changed everything, but it certainly has changed most things in the world in which we live to the point that some things may never be the same. While we are moving toward a post Covid-19 world, we are not there yet, and we can expect even more changes over the next year as the unexpected ramifications of change continue. We will cover how things have changed in the US and world economies and how to position ourselves as we expect the unexpected.  
Save the Date!
January 31 - February 2, 2022
The 25th Annual National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference, the Southern Corn & Soybean Conference, the Southern Precision Ag Conference and the Delta States Irrigation Conferences
25th Annual NCS Cotton & Rice Conferences will be held in Jonesboro, AR at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Red Wolf Convention Center
More Info...
The conference is fast becoming the leading source for Certified Crop Consultants to earn Continuing Education Credits (CEU's). The 2021 conference was approved for over 60 hours of CEU's by the Certified Crop Advisors Association. It is expected that similar CEU's will be offered in the 2022 conferences.
The FAO Rice Price Update provides monthly rice export prices from major origins and is released monthly.
On 04/16/2021, the Indian Metrological Department released its first long-range forecast for the 2021 southwest monsoonal season forecasting normal rainfall. On 04/23/2021, the government announced that it will begin providing, anew, free food grains to 800 million NFSA beneficiaries (62% of the population). Distribution begins May and extends through June 2021, assisting those experiencing economic hardship during the pandemic's second wave, requiring some 8 million metric tons of food grains.
Arkansas Rice Update 2021-07
Jarrod Hardke and Trent Roberts
Trade Update

Food & Ag Regulatory
and Policy Roundup 

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