Michael Dwyer, director of global policy analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service told rice industry members today that U.S. agriculture will remain strong over the next decade due to growth fueled by emerging market economies. "With expansion of the middle class likely to double over the next decade, rising demand will result in strong exports and prices for U.S. agricultural products," Dwyer said during a morning session at the 2011 USA Rice Outlook Conference.

Dwyer noted that several decades of low commodity prices discouraged investment and innovation in production technology, but with strong demand expected in the future within the farm sector, agricultural investment and trade will surge.

"Global agricultural trade has grown sharply over the past decade to an estimated $700 billion in 2011, up 150 percent since 2000," Dywer told attendees. "By 2020, global agricultural trade could exceed $1 trillion led by the income growth and trade liberalization."