09 September 2023, US: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) encourages and helps secure opportunities for minority farmers to gain traction in international trade as well as growing and promoting their business. Last year, FAS started working closely with Arkansas River Rice, the only black-owned rice mill in the United States.
Through his work with FAS, Arkansas River Rice owner, PJ Haynie, received his introduction to global trade, as he participated in an agribusiness trade mission. Alongside Former USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh and FAS Administrator Daniel Whitley, Haynie traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, and Zanzibar, Tanzania.
“It was such an eye-opening experience to have boots on the ground and see how what we grow can make a difference in the lives of people we’ve never met,” Haynie said. “It allowed me to think about the logistics of shipping internationally and the ways we can incorporate that into our daily operations.”
Inspired by the trade mission, Haynie applied for Arkansas River Rice to become one of the suppliers for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. The program helps FAS boost food security, education, and child development in low-income countries experiencing a worldwide food shortage.
“At Arkansas River Rice, we are fortunate to have a state-of-the-art, two-grade facility that can process up to 22 metric tons of rice per hour,” Haynie said. “This level of rice production allowed us to secure our first contract through FAS to export 180 MT of rice to Kyrgyzstan through the McGovern-Dole Program in the spring of 2023. It was incredibly historic, and we are excited to be a part of that.”
“FAS is fully committed to keep increasing the inclusivity of our programs, and our work with Arkansas River Rice is an incredible example of the impacts black farmers can make on the U.S. trade and global food security,” said FAS Administrator Daniel B. Whitley. “Our joint work brings the benefits of international trade to many black farmers and will inspire future generations of growers to foster and promote U.S. agriculture around the world.”
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