• 2017/19 Rice Leadership Program Tours the Gulf Coast

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 07, 2017
    2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Class
    2017/19 Rice-Leadership Class
    HOUSTON, TEXAS – Last week, the 2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Class attended the first session of the two-year program traditionally held in the Gulf Coast area of Texas and Louisiana, making stops that include examination of rice production practices, milling, and marketing as well as other aspects of the U.S. rice industry.

    “Our class was announced at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis back in December and we are excited to finally get started,” said Scott Franklin, a rice farmer from Rayville, Louisiana.  

    Texas highlights included sessions at Riviana Foods, RiceTec, Inc., the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Rice Belt Warehouse, Doguet Rice Mill, and several rice farms.  

    Californian Brian Greathouse was most impressed with Texas reservoir construction to capture excess water flowing through the Colorado River and said, “Being from California means you’re naturally sensitive to water issues.  That reservoir being constructed by the LCRA near Lake City, Texas, is one big rascal and will not only benefit agriculture but industry as well.”

    During the three-day visit to Louisiana, the class met with Farmers Rice Milling Company and toured the bioenergy plant that supplies the company's electricity.  At the South Louisiana Rail facility in Lacassine, Mark Pousson, an alumnus of the program, hosted a tour of their state-of-the-art rail facility.  Following a tour of the bagging facility at Crowley's JohnPac, Inc., the group met with Dr. Steve Linscombe, also an alumnus, at the Louisiana State University Rice Research Station, to review the latest rice research information.

    Rice farmer Kim Gallagher from Davis, California, noted the different production practices used in the South compared to California.  “Talking to rice farmers about how crawfish production in Louisiana is so important to the rice industry here made me realize how integrated farmers are, no matter their location, with the surrounding ecosystem,” said Gallagher.

    The final stop on the tour was in New Orleans to learn about river and barge logistics from Russell Marine Group and about DNA and GMO testing in rice from Eurofins.

    "One of the great things about this Leadership Program is seeing aspects of our industry that are important but we just don't think about, like JohnPac manufacturing rice bags or all that’s involved in shipping the product," said Missouri rice farmer David Martin.

    Class members are rice producers Scott Franklin, Rayville, LA; Kim Gallagher, Davis, CA; Alan Lawson, Crowley, LA; David Martin, Bernie, MO; and Ross Thibodeaux, Midland, LA.  Rice Industry representatives are Brian Greathouse, Sutter, CA with Bunge Milling, Inc., and Dr. Jarrod Hardke, Carlisle, AR, with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by USA Rice.
  • 2017/19 Leadership Development Program Class Announced

    by Michael Klein | Dec 16, 2016
    (l. to r.) David Martin, Bernie, MO; Alan Lawson, Monroe, LA; Kim Gallagher, Davis, CA; Scott Franklin, Monroe, LA; Ross Thibodeaux, Midland, LA; Brian Greathouse Sutter, CA; Dr. Jarrod Hardke, Hazen, AR
    MS-2017-19 Leadership Class Announced-161214a
    MEMPHIS, TN -- Members of the 2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Program class were announced last week during the annual Rice Awards Luncheon at the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference. The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals selected by a committee of agribusiness leaders.

    "The rice industry enjoys strong leadership, and the Rice Leadership Development Program continues to select and develop young leaders to keep that tradition going strong. This program plays a critical role thanks to the intensive training and the high caliber participants," said Rice Foundation Chairman Charley Mathews. Mathews went on to thank everyone who applied to the program and encouraged those not selected this time to apply again to the program next year.  In addition to numerous alumni serving on various local, state and national boards and committees, the USA Rice Federation, USA Rice Farmers, USA Rice Council and The Rice Foundation are chaired by Rice Leadership Program alumni.

    The new rice-producer class members are Scott Franklin, Monroe, LA; Kim Gallagher, Davis, CA; Alan Lawson, Crowley, LA; David Martin, Bernie, MO; and Ross Thibodeaux, Midland, LA. The new industry-related class members are Brian Greathouse, Sutter, CA with Bunge Milling, Inc., and Dr. Jarrod Hardke, Hazen, AR with University of Arkansas Extension Service.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication training. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.

    You can follow this and other Rice Leadership Classes on Twitter by looking for, and using, 
    #RiceLeads.

    John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and USA Rice manages the program.
  • International Rice Leadership Class – Lessons from Great Britain & Spain

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 21, 2016
    At the U.S. Embassy in London
    2016 International Class at US Embassy in London
    GREAT BRITAIN & SPAIN -- Earlier this month, the 2016 International Rice Leadership Class traveled to Europe to get an overview of the market for U.S. rice in the UK and to learn about the Spanish rice market.  The class met with a diverse group of industry representatives including importers, exporters, and millers, and U.S. government officials working in London and Madrid.

    Members of this year's International Rice Leadership Class are alumni from previous Rice Leadership Development classes and include:  Brandon Bauman, Stuttgart, AR; Wes Long, Benton, AR; Robert Petter, DeValls Bluff, AR; A.J. Sabine, Baton Rouge, LA; and Eric Unkel, Kinder, LA.

    The group traveled to Cambridge, England, where Peter Walker, general sales manager with S & B Herba Foods, Ltd., led a mill tour and talked about how they import and market U.S. rice.  In London, the class met with U.S. Agricultural Counselor Stan Phillips, Agricultural Specialist Steve Knight, and Agricultural Marketing Specialist Julie Vasquez-Nicholson who gave an overview of the British rice market.

    Next was a session with Iain Forbes of The Garden Marketing and PR firm, USA Rice’s promotion coordinator in Great Britain, who talked in detail about marketing programs used to promote U.S. rice.  He led the group on a tour of various wholesale and retail stores to observe the different ways U.S.-grown rice is packaged and marketed there.

    “After the tours and talks in the UK, I believe the consumer market needs a variety of different approaches including a more emotional and personal connection being made between the rice people are eating and where it comes from, said Arkansas rice farmer Robert Petter.

    In Madrid, Spain, the group met with U.S. Agricultural Attaché Rachel Bickford and Agricultural Specialist Marta Guerrero where they learned that Spain produces both long grain and medium grain rice but only exports long grain.  

    After one day in Madrid, the class boarded a bullet train to Valencia, along the Mediterranean Sea in southern Spain, where they met with Luis Marques Falco, director of Copsemar, a cooperative of rice seed producers that produces 50 percent of the seed rice in Spain.  

    "It was interesting to hear how the industry in Spain is so label specific.  For instance, rice produced in Valencia not only has origin listed on the label but also has to have a special seal designating it as a product of Valencia," said rice producer Brandon Bauman.

    Next on the schedule was a tour of Arroz Dacsa, the second largest rice mill in Spain, and the final stop was at IVIA-Sueca, the main public institution for rice research in Spain where the group met with Dr. Concha Domingo to discuss their rice research program.

    Arkansas rice consultant Wes Long came away from the trip with a new outlook and some words of advice for the U.S. industry.  “The romance the Spanish articulated for their rice was powerful.  Rice was not just a crop but a centerpiece of pride.  In the southern U.S. we seem to think of rice as just another commodity, another revenue stream, and we have chosen to commoditize our harvest rather than celebrate it,” said Long.  “In Spain rice is THE centerpiece of their social gatherings and a source of pride for their countrymen.  The Spanish take a great deal of pleasure in relaxing with friends and family to enjoy a lunch of hearty paella made with locally sourced rice.  It is a good model to learn from.  I wish we in the U.S. could slow down, take more time with friends to enjoy what life has to offer, and really celebrate the fruits of our labor.”

    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, American Commodity Company, and RiceTec, Inc. through a grant to The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation.
  • Leadership Class Gets Up Close in California

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 23, 2016
    Harvest time at Montna Farms
    2015-17-Leadership-Class-in-CA
    SACRAMENTO, CA -- Last week, the 2015/17 Rice Leadership Development Class completed Session Three of the program, a comprehensive tour of California's Central Valley rice country.  The week-long program consisted of farm and mill visits, observation of water systems here, and meetings with representatives of the California Rice Commission, California Rice Research Station, and Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, as well as a close look at rice harvest.  
     
    "As a California producer, it's my privilege to show my fellow class members around our region," said Greg Van Dyke.  "Touring the unique growing regions here lets them see first-hand both the rewards and difficulties of farming in California."

    “The diversity of crops that are planted so close to each other is amazing to me,” said Mississippi’s Nat McKnight.

    "I was impressed by the water districts in California rice country," said Arkansas producer Hudgens Jeter.  "While they currently have a serious issue with supply, their delivery infrastructure ensures that what is available can be moved where it is needed.  I would like to see something similar in the mid-south as we work to ensure sustainable water for the future."
     
    "This session was very insightful on the complexity of issues the local rice industry faces," said Paul Johnson, a Louisiana producer.  "From water and air quality issues, to wildlife preservation, to water availability, and increased cost of production for producers, California has a delicate political and regulatory balance of which everyone along the supply chain was cognizant."

    Class members also got to experience rice harvesting at Montna Farms after traveling to Lundberg Family Farms to observe their operation.  Sun Valley Rice Company showed the class how they process brown sprouted rice, and a tour of PGP International demonstrated the many ways rice is used as an ingredient.  

    Members of the class are producers Nicole Creason, Jonesboro, AR; Greg Van Dyke, Pleasant Grove, CA; Paul Johnson, Welsh, LA; Nat McKnight, Cleveland, MS; Hudgens Jeter, Stuttgart, AR; and industry-related members Dr. Dustin Harrell, Rayne, LA with the LSU Ag Center; and Collin Holzhauer, Harrisburg, AR with Southern Rice & Cotton.
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by USA Rice.
  • October 1 Deadline for 2017 Rice Leadership Development Program Applications

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 08, 2016
    Rice Leadership - tres cool
    They look ready to lead (from left):  Collin Holzhauer, Greg Van Dyke, and Nat McKnight.
    STUTTGART, AR -- The deadline to apply for the 2017 Rice Leadership Development Program is October 1, less than a month away.  Rice producers or industry-related professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are eligible to apply.  
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program, sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company, provides a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

    The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders.  The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews letters of recommendation, and conducts personal interviews with the finalists.  Interviews will be conducted at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in December.

    Additional information on the Rice Leadership Development Program and an application form can be found on the USA Rice website.
  • Rice Leadership Class Completes Session II

    by Colleen Klem | Jul 01, 2016
    DU President George Dunklin Jr. (far left) with members of the class
     Lead Class Cropped
    MOLINE, ILLINOIS - The 2016/18 Rice Leadership Development Program class began their week of training in Chicago at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), where they met with Fred Seamon, Senior Director, Commodity Research & Product Development.  Seamon provided an overview on using the CBOT as a tool to reduce risk.
     
    The class also visited the world headquarters here of program sponsor John Deere where they met with company executives and toured the combine factory. "Seeing the planning and preparation that goes into the manufacturing of the combines we use each fall to harvest our rice was awe-inspiring," said Brandon Truax, a rice farmer from Gillett, Arkansas. "Everyone we met with seemed genuinely interested in our opinions about the equipment we are now using and prompted us to provide input and share our thoughts and experiences as growers about the features and functions that are important to us in the field." 
     
    This is the second of four week-long sessions in the two-year leadership program.  It includes personal development workshops on presentation skills, media training, and business etiquette. "Etiquette is not taught in school any longer and I know I needed a refresher course. This review was very beneficial for all of us," said Kristopher Riggs of Jonesboro, Arkansas.
     
    After leaving the great mid-west area of the country, the class traveled to Arkansas to study the state's rice farming practices and processing industries.  The itinerary included meetings with executives at Producers Rice Mill and Riceland Foods, and a tour of the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart.
     
    For Sidney Robnett who farms in Stuttgart, the Research Center tour was a major highlight. Robnett said, "I farm very close to the Research Station so it was important to me to be able to finally tour the facility I've passed so many times. Getting to spend time with Dr. Chuck Wilson was extremely valuable and I appreciated being able to ask him questions about different varieties as well as pick his brain about growing practices."
     
    "I really enjoyed the media communications training session that we had in Little Rock," said Olivehurst, California farmer Michael Bosworth.  "Each member of the class chose a topic that they would be interviewed about and Steve Powell, who put on the training, really grilled each of us during the interview, as we were bring filmed.  I think that everyone in the class really learned a lot about how to handle an interview and we saw the value of reinforcing the positive work we all do in the rice industry."
     
    From Arkansas, the class traveled to Mississippi to tour Farmers Grain Terminal, Inc. in Greenville, a regional grain marketing company serving over 2,900 producers/owners in the Mississippi delta, southeast Arkansas, and northeast Louisiana.
     
    The seven class members are rice producers Michael Bosworth, Imran Khan, Allen McLain, Sidney Robnett, Brandon Truax, and rice industry representatives are Sunny Bottoms, with Horizon Ag, LLC, and Kristopher Riggs, with Anheuser-Busch.
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by USA Rice.
  • Rice Foundation Accepting Applications for 2017 Rice Leadership Development Program

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 28, 2016
    It could change your life!
     2017 Leadership Program Applications Open

    STUTTGART, AR -- The Rice Foundation is accepting applications for the 2017 Rice Leadership Development Program.  Rice producers or industry-related professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are eligible to apply for the program. The application deadline is October 1.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program provides a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

    The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders.  The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews letters of recommendation, and conducts personal interviews with the finalists. Interviews will be conducted at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in December.

    The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by USA Rice.

    Additional information on the Rice Leadership Development Program and an application form can be found on the USA Rice website.

     

  • Rice Leadership Development Class Graduates

    by Lee Brinckley | Feb 24, 2016
    WASHINGTON, DC -- The Rice Leadership Development Program's Class of 2014-16 graduated from the prestigious program during a special ceremony at the USA Rice Federation's 2016 Government Affairs Conference this week.  Rice Foundation Chairman Todd Burich and USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley presided over the ceremony, congratulating the graduates and thanking program sponsors, John Deere, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company.

    The class is made up of five rice producers:  Derek Haigwood, Newport, AR; Jeremy Jones, England, AR; Jon Munger, Yuba City, CA; Will Reneau, Beaumont, TX; Clay Schaefer, Hunter, AR; and two industry representatives: Jonathan Hobbs, Russell Marine Group, Jefferson, LA; and A.J. Sabine, Louisiana Farm Bureau, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Jonathan Hobbs served as class spokesperson.  He expressed his appreciation to the many people the class met who are involved "in helping execute the bigger picture of putting U.S. rice on the table for millions of families around the world."

    Hobbs concluded his commencement speech with a rallying cry to his fellow classmates saying, "Let's put our heads together and help these committees develop strategies to win back markets we've lost.  Let's take back Nicaragua, the EU, and Iraq.  Let's go get Cuba.  As far as U.S. rice demand goes, those things are game changers for everyone here.  Let's listen to our markets and learn from our past mistakes.  Let's be active leaders."

    The class was immediately put to work representing the rice industry during the conference, participating in multiple meetings with Members of Congress, staff from key Congressional Committees, and agency representatives.  

    They also met with officials at CropLife America to discuss the responsible use of environmentally sound crop protection products, and got a lesson in high tech agriculture from the FAS/USDA Global Analysis, International Production Assessment Division where they observed how crop assessments around the world are made using satellites.

    While in Washington, the group is also scheduled to meet Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas of the Cuban Embassy to discuss the potential for rice trade between the two countries as well as attend the USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee meetings.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication training.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.  

    If you have interest in applying for the 2017 Rice Leadership Development Program, contact Chuck Wilson at cwilson@usarice.com.

    Back row, from left: John Munger, Jonathan Hobbs, Derek Haigwood, Will Reneau, A.J. Sabine, Jeremy Jones, Clay Shaefer, and Chuck Wilson. Seated, from left: Larry Haugen, RiceTec; Nicole Van Vleck, American Commodity Company; John Rauber, Jr., John Deere; and Todd Burich.
     2014-16-leadership-class
  • Rice Leadership Grad Named Rice Farmer of the Year

    by Lee Brinckley | Jan 26, 2016
    USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley (left) congratulates
    Mark Isbell at the Rice Leadership Class
    graduation last year.
    mark-isbell-graduation-150224
    MEMPHIS, TN – Mark Isbell of North Little Rock, Arkansas, was named 2016 Rice Farmer of the Year at the Cotton & Rice Conference here.  Isbell is part of a multi-generation rice farm in central Arkansas focused on zero-grade farming and rice behind rice rotation. He earned both a BA and an MA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he teaches part time.

    Isbell also is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development program and gave the class commencement address at their graduation ceremony during the 2015 USA Rice Government Affairs Conference.  Isbell’s speech focused on his main take-away from the two-year program saying, “We have learned leadership is not about position; it is about affecting change and carrying your load wherever you are.”

    “I’m not surprised to see Mark acknowledged as Farmer of the Year at this major ag conference,” said Chuck Wilson, executive director of The Rice Foundation and manager of the Rice Leadership Development program.  “He is an exceptional individual, recognized for his commitment and leadership by both his peers and the industry.  Program participants are chosen for their leadership potential and it’s obvious Mark has already begun making the most of his.”

    The Rice Leadership Program is generously sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by USA Rice.
  • 2016/18 Leadership Development Program Class Announced

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 15, 2015
     
    Seated left to right: Brian Ottis (RiceTec), Kevin Ripple (John Deere Company), Chris Crutchfield (American Commodity Company), and Todd Burich (Rice Foundation Chairman). Standing left to right: Kristopher Riggs, Brandon Truax, Allen McLain, Imran Khan, Sidney Robnett, Sunny Bottoms, Michael Bosworth, and Chuck Wilson.
     MS-2016-18-Ldrsp-Class-at-RiceTec-160316

    NEW ORLEANS, LA -- Members of the 2016/18 Rice Leadership Development Program class were announced last Friday during the annual Rice Awards Luncheon at the 2015 USA Rice Outlook Conference.  The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals selected by a committee of agribusiness leaders.

    “The rice industry enjoys strong leadership, and has a bright future.  This program plays a critical role thanks to the intensive training and the high caliber participants,” said Rice Foundation Chairman Todd Burich.  Burich went on to thank everyone who applied to the program and encouraged those not selected this time to apply again to the program next year.

    The new rice-producer class members are Michael Bosworth, Olivehurst, CA; Imran Khan, Chico, CA; Allen McLain, Abbeville, LA; Sidney Robnett, Stuttgart, AR; and Brandon Truax, Gillett, AR.  The new industry-related class members are Sunny Bottoms with Horizon Ag, and Kristopher Riggs with Anheuser-Busch.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication training.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.

    John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and USA Rice manages the program.

  • Rice Leadership Class Member Wins Top Honor in Arkansas

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 10, 2015
    Shannon and Derek Haigwood
    Derek & Shannon Haigwood
    LITTLE ROCK, AR – In acknowledgement of the high caliber of people chosen to participate in the Rice Leadership Development program, another member has won a Young Farmer & Rancher Achievement Award:  Derek Haigwood in Arkansas.  

    Last week, Derek and his wife, Shannon, of Newport, Arkansas, took top honors at the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual competition here.  The Haigwoods are a fourth generation row-crop farm family whose long-term goal is to leave a sustainable farming legacy for their son.

    Chuck Wilson, executive director of The Rice Foundation and manager of the Rice Leadership Development Program, said, "It’s no coincidence that our Rice Leadership members are being recognized as leaders in the ag community.  Derek and his fellow classmates graduate early next year but, as you can see, they are already having a tremendous impact on the industry.  These accolades and honors earned by our program graduates should be great incentive to anyone thinking about submitting an application.”

    The Haigwoods earned an expense-paid trip in January to the American Farm Bureau Federation national conference in Orlando where they will compete for national awards against at least one other Rice Leadership Development alumnus – Timothy Gertson, who took Texas’ honors last week as well.
  • Rice Leadership Alum Wins Texas Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher Contest

    by Colleen Klem | Dec 08, 2015
    Timothy Gertson gets hands on in Thailand
    Thailand Tim Gertson
    ARLIINGTON, TX – Timothy and Lindy Gertson of Lissie, Texas, were named the winners of the 2015 Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher competition at TFB’s Annual Meeting last weekend.  The Gertsons grow rice, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat in Wharton County.

    Timothy is a fifth generation rice farmer and has worked for years to improve the land he leases, repairing dilapidated irrigation wells and canals, and using technology to conserve water wherever possible.  He is a graduate of the 2012-14 Rice Leadership Development Program and last month traveled to Thailand with the 2015 International Rice Leadership Class to get an overview of the Thai rice market.   

    Chuck Wilson, executive director of The Rice Foundation and manager of the Rice Leadership Development Program, said, "I am so proud of Timothy for winning this award and getting this recognition but, I have to say, I’m not surprised.  Timothy has always shown great leadership and innovation which is a big reason he was selected for the Rice Leadership Development Program."

    As winners of the Young Farmer & Rancher contest, the Gertsons will represent Texas at the national competition in January.
  • USA Rice Leadership Class Alumni Visit Thailand

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 13, 2015
    Robb Dedman, Park Eldridge, and Chad Duckworth get up close with Thai Jasmine rice.
    Visiting Thai Jasmine rice field
    BANGKOK, THAILAND – In early November, the 2015 International Rice Leadership Class toured Thailand to get an overview of the Thai rice market.  The group met with a diverse group of industry representatives including Thai exporters/traders, farmers, millers, rice research stations, and U.S. government officials working in Thailand.

    Members of this year’s International Rice Leadership Class are alumni from previous Rice Leadership Development classes and include:  Rance Daniels, Hornersville, MO; Robb Dedman, Rison, AR; Chad Duckworth, Jonesboro, AR; Park Eldridge, Gillette, AR; and Timothy Gertson, Lissie, TX.
     
    In Bangkok, the country’s capital city, the class met first with U.S. Agricultural Counselor Bobby Richey, who gave an overview of the Thai rice industry, before visiting the Thailand Rice Department (School of Rice) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.  

    Next stop was the Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (UPA) project where people who live in apartments are being taught how to grow food items on their rooftops.  Rice merchant Park Eldridge commented on the idea, “I can see how this could be done in our large cities and how it would help reduce food costs for city dwellers.”  

    The highlight at the Prachinburi Rice Research Center was the In-Situ Conservation site for wild rice and deep water rice ecosystem.  “It was amazing to see wild rice growing in water as deep as seven feet, and they don’t fertilize it or anything,” said Texas producer Timothy Gertson.

    After visiting a rice seed production facility, the class boarded a plane and flew to northeast Thailand to see first-hand the harvest of Thai Jasmine.  “Everyone in the rice industry knows about Thai Jasmine and to see it being harvested and hearing how it is grown in a rain-fed ecosystem was very interesting,” said rice consultant Robb Dedman.  

    “It was fascinating to see the way the Thai processors purchased rice from the farmers and then dumped it on a concrete slab to be sun dried before being milled,” said Missouri producer Rance Daniels.

    Chad Duckworth, with Armor Seed, summed up the week-long trip, saying, “Having an opportunity to sit down with a group of Thai rice farmers and visit with them about how they grow rice and then talk about how we grow it, was amazing.  I understand now how beneficial this program is and how much exposure to every aspect of rice production, both in the U.S. and abroad, can help all of us here give thoughtful, educated input when it comes to making decisions about how we do things at home.”

    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, American Commodity Company, and RiceTec, Inc. through a grant to The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation.
  • International Rice Leadership Class Headed to Thailand

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 22, 2015
    A world away
    Thai-Rice-Field 
    STUTTGART, AR --- The Rice Leadership Development Program recently selected the 2015 International Rice Leadership class, and they will be heading to Thailand next week as part of their continuing education.

    Class members are:  Chad Duckworth from Jonesboro, AR; Rance Daniels from Hornersville, MO; Park Eldridge from Gillett, AR; Timothy Gertson from Lissie, TX; and Robb Dedman from Rison, AR.

    "In selecting the class, we put a lot of emphasis on how the Leadership Development alumni have put their leadership training to use in serving the rice industry since graduating," said Rice Foundation Chairman Todd Burich.  "The number and quality of applicants this year was great and shows the graduates' engagement and commitment to the industry.  This is a solid class who will no doubt learn a lot from seeing one of our toughest competitors up close and personal."

    The class is scheduled to visit the U.S. Embassy to meet with Bobby Richey, Agricultural Counselor for Thailand to get an overview of the Thai rice market before visiting the Prachinburi Rice Research Center to view the In-Situ Conservation site for wild rice and deep water rice ecosystem.  The class also will visit rice farms, a parboiled rice mill, a rice noodle factory, supermarkets, and a seed production company among other stops.
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by USA Rice.
  • Rice Leadership Class Session III: California in Their Own Words

    by Colleen Klem | Oct 09, 2015
    The 2014-16 Rice Leadership Class on tour
    2014-16 Leadership Class in CA, factory tour
    SACRAMENTO, CA -- Who wouldn't want to spend a week here getting an overview of California's rice marketing and production practices, crop diversity, conservation and environmental issues, and a close-up look at the state's rice harvest?  It's an itinerary any young rice farmer would love.


    We asked the seven members of the 2014-16 Rice Leadership Class for their impressions of the week-long learning session that included tours of the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District, an aerial audit of the Oroville Dam, Lake Shasta, and the Salinas Valley water systems, and a research update from Dr. Kent McKenzie, director of the California Rice Research Station in Biggs.  They also got to experience rice harvesting on Leo LaGrande's ranch, hear about conservation practices at Montna Farms, and tour PGP International where they observed the many ways rice is used as an ingredient.  Here's what they told us.

    "I gained a new respect for growers in California while on this trip. They continue to produce a high quality crop despite the exceptional drought and intense regulation." -- Derek Haigwood, rice farmer from Newport, AR

    "The trip was very insightful on the complexity of issues the local rice industry faces.  From water and air quality issues, to wildlife preservation, to water availability, and increased cost of production for producers, it became apparent very quickly that the California rice industry is a different ballgame from the South.  It appears to be a delicate political and regulatory balance of which everyone along the supply chain was cognizant."-- Jonathan Hobbs, Russell Marine Group

    "It is important in every area of life to build strong relationships.  Through the Rice Leadership Development program I have been given the opportunity to meet and get to know people from every corner of the rice industry.  I have learned that though there are miles between us, we are more the same than we are different.  This program has definitely challenged me to think about our industry in a different way.  Instead of asking the question:  "What's good for me?"  Let's ask the question:  "What's good for all of us?" -- Jeremy Jones, rice farmer from England, AR

    "This leg of the program in California has been great.  I have gotten to see parts of the region that I was not familiar with yet.  I especially appreciated learning about water rights and water issues facing California.  I am hoping others get a good sense of the struggles we have with regulations and labor so they can go back to their states and address the issues proactively." -- John Munger, rice farmer from Yuba City, CA

    "Thank you to all the California rice industry leaders for taking the time to provide our class with a very educational week.  It was quite the eye-opening experience to see first-hand all of the challenges California faces.  It was apparent the industry out there has adapted very well to all of these challenges.  Coming from the South, I think we should use California's approach to dealing with issues as a game plan for the same challenges almost certainly headed our way."-- Will Reneau, rice farmer from Beaumont, TX

    "Participation in the Leadership Class will help me in my career because it has made me a better storyteller, not just to tell the stories of Louisiana farmers but also those in Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.  It's helping me inform stakeholders."-- A.J. Sabine, TWILA in Baton Rouge, LA

    "Seeing all of the regulations that California producers are facing makes me afraid of what's coming down the pipeline for Arkansas.  We need to keep working together to make the U.S. rice industry as strong as possible for future generations."-- Clay Schaefer, rice farmer from Hunter, AR

    The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by USA Rice. 
  • Application Deadline for Rice Leadership Program Nears

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 24, 2015
    Rice Foundation logo
    STUTTGART, AR – Rice producers and other industry-related professionals who are interested and meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to complete the application process for the Rice Leadership Development program by October 3.  The next class will be announced in December at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

    The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills training.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.

    The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders evaluating their applications, reviewing letters of recommendation and conducting personal interviews with the finalists.  Candidates must be 25-45 at the time of application and derive their primary livelihood from some aspect of the rice industry.

    The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by the USA Rice Federation.

    To apply for the program, please click on 2016 Rice Leadership Program Application Form.
  • Rice Foundation Accepting Applications for 2016 Leadership Development Program

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 02, 2015
    Look for this photo on the website and you'll find the application!
    MS-Leadership Class Observing Harvest in CA-131017 

    STUTTGART, AR - The Rice Foundation is accepting applications for the 2016 Rice Leadership Development Program.  Rice producers or industry-related professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are eligible to apply for the program. The application deadline is October 3.

    The Rice Leadership Development Program provides a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

    The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders.  The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews letters of recommendation and conducts personal interviews with the finalists.  Interviews will be conducted at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in December.

    The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by USA Rice.  

    For additional information on the program or for an application form, visit usarice.com and click the "Read More" button on the sliding panel featuring the Leadership Program Applications.

  • Rice Leadership Class Finishes Session II in Arkansas and Mississippi

    by User Not Found | Jun 26, 2015
    LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- After leaving the great mid-west area of the country, the 2015/17 Rice Leadership Development Class traveled to Arkansas to study the state's rice farming practices and processing industries.  The itinerary included professional development seminars and meetings with executives at Producers Rice Mill and Riceland Foods. 
     
    The group also discussed conservation practices with Ducks Unlimited President and rice farmer George Dunklin and toured the Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center to learn about the latest developments in rice research.   
     
    Class member Collin Holzhauer, with Southern Rice & Cotton, said, "The highlight of Session II for me was touring George Dunklin's farming operation south of Stuttgart. George is president of Ducks Unlimited, and is a devout conservationist who employs management practices that are truly incredible. He plants a few hundred acres of rice just for the ducks to eat over the winter, and operates a tree nursery where they grow containerized bottomland hardwood species for restoration. 

    At Five Oaks Duck Lodge (from left): Chuck Wilson, Dustin Harrell, Nicole Creason, Nat McKnight, Hudgens Jeter, Collin Holzhauer, Greg Van Dyke, and Paul Johnson.
    Session-II,-AR-Duck-Lodge

    Holzhauer continued, "George also graciously hosted a Rice Leadership Alumni dinner at his lodge.  There was an amazing turn out - more than seventy people attended, including some who drove from Mississippi and Louisiana.  That's how dedicated people are to this program."
     
    From Arkansas, the class traveled to Mississippi to tour Farmers Grain Terminal, Inc. in Greenville, a regional grain marketing company serving over 2,900 producers/owners in the Mississippi delta, southeast Arkansas, and northeast Louisiana.
     
    "As rice farmers and industry professionals, we watch our crops grow and see their progression throughout the growing season and harvest, but there are so many moving parts of the rice industry that we don't see on a daily basis that hold a vital role in the production of rice," said Nicole Creason, a class member and rice producer from Jonesboro, Arkansas. "In Session II, we got the chance to witness some of these processes in action and it was very enlightening."

    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation.

    Image on left: Grading the grader at Producers Rice Mill. Image on right: They look ready to lead (from left): Collin Holzhauer, Greg Van Dyke, and Nat McKnight.
    Grading the grader  at Producers Rice Mill.   They look ready to lead (from left):  Collin Holzhauer, Greg Van Dyke, and Nat McKnight.

  • Rice Leadership Development Session II, First Stop: CBOT and John Deere

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 17, 2015
    From left: Hudgens Jeter, Paul Johnson, Nat McKnight, Nicole Creason, Collin Holzhauer, Greg Van Dyke, Dutin Harrell, and Kevin Ripple with John Deere.
     From left: Hudgens Jeter, Paul Johnson, Nat McKnight, Nicole Creason, Collin Holzhauer,  Greg Van Dyke, Dutin Harrell, and Kevin Ripple with John Deere.

    MOLINE, ILLINOIS -- The 2015/17 Rice Leadership Development Program class began the week in Chicago at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), where the class met with Fred Seamon, Senior Director, Commodity Research & Product Development.  Seamon provided an overview on using the CBOT as a tool to reduce risk. 
     

    "CBOT really opened my eyes to what is happening after the rice leaves my farm," said class member Paul Johnson, a rice farmer from Welsh, Louisiana. "Because farmers tend to concentrate on producing a safe and abundant crop while focused on water and environmental stewardship, we forget there are market forces beyond our immediate control that can help a farmer who is paying attention, or hurt a farmer who doesn't know what to consider."
     
    The class also visited the world headquarters here of program sponsor John Deere where they met with company executives and toured the combine factory.
     
    This is the second of four week-long sessions in the two-year leadership program.  It includes personal development workshops on presentation skills, media training and business etiquette. The class will now travel to Arkansas and Mississippi to study those state's rice farming practices and processing industries.
     
    The seven class members are rice producers Johnson; Nicole Creason, Jonesboro, AR; Greg Van Dyke, Pleasant Grove, CA; Nat McKnight, Cleveland, MS; and Hudgens Jeter, Stuttgart, AR; and rice industry representatives Dr. Dustin Harrell, Rayne, LA with LSU AgCenter, and Collin Holzhauer, Harrisburg, AR with Southern Rice & Cotton.
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation.

     
  • Rice Foundation Accepting Applications for 2016 Rice Leadership Development Program

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 03, 2015
    Session One includes a tour of the LSU Rice Research Station
    LSU 
    STUTTGART, AR -- The Rice Foundation is accepting applications for the 2016 Rice Leadership Development Program. Rice producers or industry-related professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are eligible to apply for the program. The application deadline is October 3. 
     
    The Rice Leadership Development Program provides a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry. 
     
    The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders. The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews letters of recommendation, and conducts personal interviews with the finalists. Interviews will be conducted at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in December.
     
    The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by the USA Rice Federation. 
     
    Additional information on the Rice Leadership Development Program and an application form can be found on the USA Rice website.