The 500 rice industry people who are attending the Americas Rice Convention are sticking to their head phones like white on rice.
Here in Miami, the attendees are separated by a common commodity.
Folks from Brazil speak Portugese; those from the rest of Latin America, Spanish; and the rest of us speak English.
At this convention, a translator and a set of head phones are essential tools.
Depending on the nationality of the presenter, the speakers speak talk topics ranging from rice quality, markets, weather, free trade and prices in Portugese, Spanish and English.
Dwight Roberts, president and CEO of the U.S. Rice Producers, says clients in the Western Hemisphere have always been a priority for rice producers in the U.S.
"These are the most important markets for rice coming out of the Delta and the Gulf Coast," Roberts says. "We keep close relationships with all these South American and Central American markets."
Hearing updates on the rice industry, attendees moved to the halls and continued the relationships.
The Americas Rice Convention gave rice industry professionals the opportunity to do business as well as catch up on industry happenings.
"What goes on at the bar and on free time is as important as the sessions where you sit down," Roberts says.
In the halls, as in the sessions, several topics emerged.
One of the major topics was grain quality of U.S. rice. Issues with quality affected markets beginning two years ago. Another was the future of seed varieties.
"Farmers want higher yields and mills want higher quality," Roberts says.
Yield and quality have made a move to converge.
Rice breeders from the U.S. and Latin American universities and private companies converged to talk about the future of rice varieties in the Western hemisphere.