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California rice farmers find Japanese trade negotiators a bit starchy

California rice farmers find Japanese trade negotiators a bit starchy

For years Charley Mathews Jr. has exported tons of his best Sacramento Valley-grown rice to Japan, but it grates on him that very little of that has ever ended up on the tables of sushi restaurants or Japanese households. Instead, the Japanese government, which controls rice imports under a 2-decade-old quota system, has given away most of his and other foreign rice as food aid or sold it domestically as animal feed and an ingredient for rice crackers. "We want recognition," said Mathews, 48, a fifth-generation California farmer whose great-grandfather began planting rice 80 years ago. He insists that California rice is as good as Japan's, if only Japanese consumers had...

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