U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill met this week with Missouri rice producers to discuss the importance of opening foreign export markets and her efforts to ensure Missouri producers have a voice in the renegotiation of the country’s trade deals, including North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “As our rice farmers and producers continue to expand production, we’ve got to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed in Missouri and around the world,” McCaskill said. “As we’ve seen, when Missouri rice competes in the global market, we win—and I’m working hard to make sure our trade deals continue to help our agriculture producers come out on top.” This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that rice producers and processers in Southeast Missouri and across the state will finally be able to export their product to China, following a sustained effort from McCaskill. McCaskill had urged the Department of Agriculture to finalize negotiations with China—which have gone on for more than ten years—to open up the Chinese market to U.S. producers. China is the largest rice-producing country in the world, but as the largest rice consumer, it has become increasingly reliant on imports to meet demand. As negotiations continue behind closed doors around NAFTA, McCaskill is fighting to provide Missouri farmers, ranchers, and producers a voice in the renegotiation of the nation’s largest trade agreement. Her plan would force the U.S. Trade Representative to create an online public comment portal that is easily accessible and readily available to the public, to ensure that Missourians can provide their input on the trade renegotiations. McCaskill, a longtime advocate for farmers and ranchers in Missouri, recently met with President Trump’s trade chief to discuss the importance of protecting Missouri’s agriculture economy. Last year, McCaskill joined her Republican colleagues in seeking protections for Missouri agriculture producers in NAFTA renegotiations, and urged the Trump Administration to conduct a robust economic analysis to evaluate how any changes to NAFTA would affect Missouri’s crop and livestock sectors.