The lead ag negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says the U.S. has been “heavily engaged” with the Indian government on agricultural issues, including India’s recent export ban of long grain, non-basmati rice.

Speaking on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip said USTR is “closely monitoring and working with the Indian government” on the export ban.

The U.S. is not alone in its opposition to the ban.

“Many countries have all bound together to say that we don't believe that the export bans are the appropriate action to take in times of uncertainty,” McKalip said. “We don't want to have price volatility; we don't want to have supply chain uncertainty. We'll continue to get that message through and continue to work with our Indian colleagues on that.”

However, the USA Rice Federation would like to see the Biden administration take further action.

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Peter Bachmann, the group's vice president of policy and government affairs, said USA Rice is planning to “turn up the heat” in the next couple of weeks. USA Rice, he noted, feels bringing the issue before the World Trade Organization is “absolutely warranted.”

“When India is playing games with the world food supply, I think it's definitely time to get their attention through a WTO case and timing is right,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann says U.S. farmers will benefit from the ban in the short term as they fill India’s gaps in the global marketplace, but eventually, the ban will create a “long-term problem.”

“[India will] build their stocks and eventually dump that rice on the world market very cheaply. … That is going to displace us down the road,” said Bachmann. “But right now, I do see a short-term major benefit for our industry, our growers, our exporters, and merchants as well.”

Almond Alliance President and CEO Aubrey Bettencourt also joined this week’s show to discuss this year’s almond crop and trade outlook.

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