News Mississippi

Hyde-Smith: U.S.-South Korea rice agreement to benefit MS producers

By Steven Gagliano

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith welcomed news of an agreement that could allow exports of rice grown in Mississippi to South Korea.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Tuesday announced the long-sought agreement by which South Korea will allow market access for 132,304 tons of U.S. rice annually, with an annual value of approximately $110 million.

“As a rice-producing state, Mississippi can only benefit as South Korea agrees to provide guaranteed market access to U.S.-grown rice,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate committees that authorize and fund federal agricultural programs.

Rice production in the Mississippi Delta ranks sixth nationally. With more than 10.1 million hundred weight grown in 2018, valued at $117 million in production value, a $21 million increase over 2017.

“The South Korean rice deal, along with China agreeing to lift its ban on U.S. poultry imports, represents very positive actions by the President and his team that will benefit Mississippi agriculture directly,” Hyde-Smith said.

Last Thursday, China agreed to open its market to U.S. poultry exports after banning American-grown poultry in 2015. Before the ban, China imported more than $500 million worth of U.S. poultry products in 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now estimates that China could increase its intake of U.S. poultry and poultry products by 68 percent, amounting to $1 billion annually.

Mississippi is the fifth-largest U.S. producer of broilers, with 747 million chickens worth $2.88 billion produced in 2018. The state also produced more than 1.41 billion eggs last year, valued at $304 million.