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California rice growers could export product to China

Amadscientist/Wikimedia commons
An aerial view of rice fields near Sacramento.

For the first time in history, an agreement is in place that gives U.S. rice growers access to China, the world's largest consumer of rice.

"It's a milestone, this is something that took many years to achieve," says Jim Morris with the California Rice Commission.

He also says, there are still several steps that need to take place before exports can begin. One of those is a tour of rice producing facilities by Chinese inspectors.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have rice heading to China," says Morris. "We anticipate the volume will start slow, and then we'll build on that."

In a typical year, Sacramento Valley farmers produce nearly 5 billion pounds of rice, making it the second-largest rice producing area in the U.S. Morris says consumers in China eat the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop, every 13 days.