KYODO, JAPAN — USA Rice Federation staff and members traveling in Japan said on May 8 there is growing interest in importing U.S.-short grain rice. 

Last year's tsunami and the resulting nuclear event affecting the Fukishima region will reportedly lead the nation to replace roughly 50,000 tonnes of "lost rice" removed from the market due to radiation contamination, and 650,000 tonnes (4% of Japan's annual production) of rice that cannot be grown in the region because of the contamination and consumer avoidance of all food products grown in the Fukishima Prefecture.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) most recent Prospective Plantings report, rice growers in the U.S. will plant more short-grain rice. Many believe the increased area is the result of higher import demand in Japan. The USDA estimates that short-grain rice production in California will increase 16% compared with last year.

USA Rice Asia Turkey Promotion Subcommittee members, including California rice producer Michael Rue and American Commodity Company President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Crutchfield are accompanying USA Rice staff Jim Guinn and Bill Farmer.