• New Merchant Member Joins USA Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 11, 2017
    Southern Rice & Cotton Logo
    Southern Rice & Cotton, LLC, in Harrisburg, Arkansas, recently joined the USA Rice Merchants' Association.  Located just an hour from the Mississippi River, Southern Rice & Cotton is a federally bonded and USDA licensed warehouse facility that is also a licensed regular rough rice warehouse for the Chicago Board of Trade.

    "We are thrilled to have Southern Rice & Cotton join our Merchants' Association,” said Dick Ottis, chairman of USA Rice Merchants' Association board of directors.  “One of their managers, Collin Holzhauer, recently graduated from the Rice Leadership Program, so we’re pleased to be strengthening their participation in USA Rice.”
  • USA Rice Presents to Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 13, 2017
    USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward delivers
    annual progress report
    2017 AR-State-Mtg
    LITTLE ROCK, AR -- USA Rice staff Betsy Ward, Michael Klein, and Hugh Maginnis presented the annual USA Rice Council report to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) here last week.

    Ward provided the board with the financial report and results of the audits for all five organizations overseen by USA Rice, and also gave an update on opportunities and challenges the U.S. rice industry faces, including the impact of priorities coming out of the Trump Administration on trade, food aid, and the upcoming Farm Bill.  Klein shared highlights of recent domestic promotion activities, including chef farm and mill tours that have resulted in U.S.-grown rice being called out on restaurant menus, while Maginnis reported on international markets and programs, including an active tender in Iraq and increasing market access in markets such as Central America and Haiti.

    The ARRPB is made up of nine rice producers who are nominated by industry organizations and appointed to two-year terms by the governor.  The board is responsible for allocating Arkansas rice promotion and research check-off funds annually, and for the past 30 plus years, the ARRPB has awarded promotion funds to the USA Rice Council in recognition of the exemplary work performed by the Council on behalf of Arkansas rice farmers.

    "I appreciated the opportunity to report on work made possible by the financial resources entrusted to us by Arkansas," Ward said.  "On behalf of USA Rice, I also want to thank the Arkansas rice farmers and industry members who serve on the USA Rice Council board and on USA Rice domestic and international promotion committees.  Their participation is vital to USA Rice's member-driven process for program development and implementation."

    After the presentations on promotion results and USA Rice financials, the ARRPB approved the USA Rice Council's request for funding in the fiscal year August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018.
  • California Rice Country: In the Board Room and On the Farm

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 13, 2017
    On the Van Dyke farm with Connie Jerome
    and Greg Van Dyke
    CA-Rice-Country,-Greg-Van-Dyke-&;-Connie-Jerome
    SACRAMENTO, CA -- Last week USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward visited California rice country to attend the March Board of Directors meeting of the California Rice Commission (CRC).  “The CRC is a key member of USA Rice and supports our programs both financially and with the active members who populate our boards and committees,” said Ward.  “It was great to speak to the CRC Board about developments in Washington and to thank them for all their support for USA Rice.”

    CRC manages an impressive program for the California rice industry and that was demonstrated by the scope of topics addressed at the board meeting including farm policy, international trade policy and promotion, regulatory and food safety issues, and CRC’s effective communications outreach to multiple target audiences both in California and around the globe.

    In addition to attending the CRC event, Ward traveled to Pleasant Grove to visit the Van Dyke Ranch, a vertically integrated company that includes Van Dyke’s Rice Dryer and VA Farms Inc.   Greg Van Dyke, a recent graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program, led the tour and explained the history of the Van Dyke family operations in the region that stretches back to 1898.

    “I appreciate the hospitality of Greg and his family, and always enjoy getting out to see rice facilities first hand,” said Ward.
  • USA Rice Exhibit A Crowd Pleaser at Mid-South Farm & Gin Show

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 07, 2017
    Putting rice knowledge to the test
    2017-Farm-&-Gin-Show-Booth
    MEMPHIS, TN – Thousands of attendees to the 65th Annual Mid-south Farm and Gin Show visited the USA Rice booth this past weekend.  The annual trade show, known as an American agricultural event, attracts approximately 18,000 visitors over the two-day time frame.
     
    USA Rice joined 400 other exhibitors from 40 states and fifteen countries to share the rice message.  For the second year, USA Rice staff set up an exciting prize wheel to draw visitors and create opportunities to talk about the rice industry and the awesome commodity it produces.  

    This year, in addition to receiving rice prizes for answering rice questions correctly, patrons also were given new materials including a coloring booklet for children ages 2-8, to teach them about rice grown in the U.S., and two new rice recipe brochures titled Rice: The Grain to Go With and Rediscover Rice.

    “The coloring books were a big hit,” said USA Rice staffer Mary Jemison.  “And not only with the kids but with their parents, too.  Several teachers attending the show were interested in using them in their classrooms back home.”

    USA Rice members also participated in two educational seminars offered at the show.  Carl Brothers, COO at Riceland Foods, updated participants on the outlook for rice and wheat, and Milo Hamilton, co-founder and senior agricultural economist of Firstgrain, Inc., conducted a special rice marketing educational seminar.


  • Mark Your Calendar: Rice Industry Meetings Scheduled Next Week

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 03, 2017
    What's in store for 2017
    Blue-Sky-Rice
    KINDER, LA – Louisiana and Southeast Arkansas rice industry stakeholders will receive the latest information on issues impacting the industry in series of meetings scheduled next week.
     
    The Annual Joint Membership meeting of the Louisiana Rice Council and the Louisiana Rice Growers Association will be held on Tuesday, February 7, at the Grand Marais Center, 919 North Lake Arthur Avenue, Jennings, LA 70546.  A reception hosted by Louisiana Rice Political Action Committee and a trade show begins at 4 p.m. with the meeting program following at 5:45 p.m.  Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will be the featured speaker and dinner will be served.  In addition to an up-to-the-minute report by USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward on what the changes in Washington, DC, will mean to rice, Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of marketing and communications, will highlight promotion activities in the domestic market.  

    On Wednesday, February 8, the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association hold their annual rice forum at 9:00 a.m. at the Rayville Civic Center, Rayville, LA.  In addition to receiving the latest rice production recommendations from LSU AgCenter scientists, USA Rice staff will repeat the reports presented in Jennings the day before.  The forum begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. and ends with lunch.  For more information, contact Keith Collins, (318) 728-3216.

    A Southeast Arkansas regional rice meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on February 8, at the Delta Men’s Association Building, Highway 65 (north of Eudora), Eudora, AR 71640.  USA Rice will repeat reports given in Rayville earlier that day.  The meeting will conclude with lunch.  For more information, contact Justin Towery, (870) 510-0208.

  • USA Rice on the Road in Mississippi and Arkansas

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 27, 2017
     
    Hijinks at the USA Rice booth
    Fun-@-the-USA-Rice-Booth-at-2017 AR-State-Mtg
    CLEVELAND, MS and STUTTGART, AR – As the 2017 planting season approaches, rice state meetings are in full swing and USA Rice is on the road listening to growers and sharing planned activities and success stories.

    More than 40 growers filled the Bolivar County – Mississippi State University Extension Office to hear updates from Mississippi State Extension/Research Rice Specialist Bobby Golden who leads a talented team of researchers looking into off-target herbicide drift, planting techniques and progression trends, and other important issues.

    “We are fortunate to have a great team at Mississippi State of home-grown, world-class researchers,” said Mississippi Research and Promotion Board Chairman and Mississippi grower Marvin Cochran.  “We’ve been losing talent to agribusiness, so I’m encouraged that we now have an excellent crop of scientists working to improve rice in the Delta.”

    USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward shared her organization’s outlook for life under a Trump Administration.

    “It seems to be a bit of a mixed bag for us at the moment,” she said.  “We’re encouraged by the President’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture, and the focus on enforcement of existing trade deals is positive for us.  Of course anything that disrupts trade with our top export market, Mexico, gives us pause.”

    Ben Mosely, vice president of government affairs for USA Rice, discussed the new make up in Congress and what it’s going to mean as a new Farm Bill comes into focus and how Congress will deal with President Trump’s regulatory agenda.

    “There are 10 Democrat Senators on the Senate Ag Committee and all eyes are going to be on the seven who are up for reelection in 2018, five of whom represent states Donald Trump won,” he said.

    USA Rice Vice President of Marketing, Communications, & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein discussed the group’s newly invigorated food service program that has recently launched print and electronic advertising and monthly newsletters targeting decision makers in the sector.

    He also shared results of farm and mill tours for development chefs that has expanded the network of chefs promoting U.S. rice, and showed the promotional video PF Chang’s created to highlight U.S.-grown rice.

    “We have a great partner in PF Chang’s who are using their own resources to help promote U.S. rice, and now the Landry’s Restaurant Group and El Pollo Loco are joining their ranks,” he said.

    Today in Stuttgart, more than 300 gathered for the Arkansas Rice Annual Meeting and trade show where the current political climate, the carbon credit market, and conservation planning dominated discussions.

    Ward provided her analysis of the landscape in Washington, including the expected rise of influence of rural America.

    “Donald Trump won 76 percent of the districts with a Cracker Barrel in them and only 22 percent of the districts with a Whole Foods,” she told the crowd.  “It’s rural America that elected him, and while he is President of the entire country, there is a saying about dancing with the one that brought you.”

    Local growers Mark Isbell, Mike Sullivan, and Jim Whitaker shared their experiences with the carbon credit market and encouraged others to join their efforts to expand and communicate the sustainability message of U.S. rice.

    Amanda Mathis with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service rounded out the programming with a practical discussion of how growers can take advantage of her agency's assistance programs.

    "Today was an important gathering for our members," said Arkansas Rice Council Chairman and grower Jeff Rutledge.  "There's a lot happening in Washington and on research fronts that affect us all and before you know it, we're all going to disappear onto our farms, so it was good to hear and interact with the speakers and exhibitors."
  • Upcoming Rice Industry Meetings Scheduled in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 23, 2017
    Making U.S. rice great again
    Combine in Rice Field during Harvest
    JENNINGS, LA -- Rice industry stakeholders will receive the latest information on opportunities and challenges in major markets at several meetings scheduled next week throughout Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

    The Mississippi Rice Council Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, January 26, at the Bolivar County Extension Office at 406 North Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr, Cleveland, MS 38732.  USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward and Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of marketing and communications, will report on what the change in the U.S. administration will mean for rice and provide updates on the domestic and international rice promotion activities.  For more information, contact Chuck Wilson or call (870) 509-1200.

    The Arkansas Rice Council and Arkansas Rice Farmers will hold their annual meeting and trade show Friday, January 27, at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart.  U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford, Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, and USA Rice’s Ward will all be in attendance for the event, which will focus on providing growers with tools and resources that could positively affect their bottom line.  For more information and to register for the event visit www.arkansasrice.org/annualmeeting or call (501) 375-1100.

    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will be the featured speaker at the annual joint membership meeting of the Louisiana Rice Council and the Louisiana Rice Growers Association on Tuesday, February 7.  The event will be held at the Grand Marais Center, 919 North Lake Arthur Avenue, Jennings, LA 70546.  A reception hosted by the Louisiana Rice Political Action Committee and a trade show will begin at 4 p.m. with program presentations, including a report from USA Rice, starting at 5:45 p.m.  Dinner will be served.  For more information, contact Randy Jemison or on his cell at (337) 515-7250.

    On Wednesday, February 8, The Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association will hold their annual rice forum at 9:00 a.m. at the Rayville Civic Center, Rayville, LA.  In addition to receiving the latest rice production recommendations from LSU AgCenter scientists, USA Rice staff repeat the reports presented in Jennings the day before.  The forum will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. and end with lunch.  For more information contact Keith Collins or by phone at (318) 728-3216.

    A Southeast Arkansas regional rice meeting will be held at 4 p.m. following the northeast Louisiana Meeting on February 8, at the Delta Men’s Association Building, Highway 65 (north of Eudora), Eudora, AR 71640.  USA Rice staff will repeat reports given in Rayville earlier that day and the meeting will conclude with dinner.  For more information, contact Justin Towery or by phone at (870) 510-0208.
  • Western Rice Belt Production Conference and Texas Rice Council Welcome USA Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 18, 2017
    Texas rice producers watch P.F. Chang's
    Farm-to-Wok video featuring U.S. rice
    2017 TX-Rice-Conference
    EL CAMPO, TX – More than 200 Texas rice producers packed the Civic Center here today for the annual Western Rice Belt Production Conference and Texas Rice Council Meetings to hear research and association updates.

    USA Rice Vice President of Marketing, Communications, & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein provided an overview of USA Rice issue areas and then walked the crowd through several highlights, including what the Trump Administration may mean for rice and what USA Rice is doing to promote U.S. rice in key international markets and at home.

    Klein also shared the recent successes of USA Rice’s unique conservation and sustainability partnership with Ducks Unlimited that has resulted in $25 million in federal funding for rice conservation.

    “These programs have put more than one million dollars directly in the pockets of Texas rice farmers through the EQIP and CSP programs of the Natural Resources Conservation Service,” Klein said.  “And just last month our partnership was awarded $15 million, more than half of which is going to the Lower Colorado River Authority to help them build a new reservoir in Eagle Lake, Texas, that will supply water to more than 50,000 rice acres in Colorado, Matagorda, and Wharton Counties.”

    Texas Rice farmer and chairman of US Rice Producers Tommy Turner also spoke, thanking the crowd for their support.  He shared his thoughts that much work remains to be done on quality issues, and went on to praise the efforts of his organization to promote rough rice exports, particularly through the South Louisiana Rail Facility.

    Other speakers included Dr. Muthu Bagvathiannan and Dr. Shane Zhou of Texas A&M, Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide Inspector Melissa Barton, and Dr. Mo Way and Dr. Joe Outlaw from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, among others.
  • Rice is Center of the Plate at Mississippi Lunch

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 20, 2016
    Thank a farmer indeed
    2016-Delta-Rice-Luncheon
    CLEVELAND, MS – Last Friday, Delta Rice Promotions, Inc. sponsored the 26th Annual Rice Tasting Luncheon here in honor of National Rice Month (NRM).  More than 300 rice dishes, prepared by community members and local restaurants, were donated for the lunch, and more than 800 people from across Mississippi and beyond joined the festivities to support local agriculture and visit a variety of educational exhibits.

    “The NRM luncheon is a way for us to thank our rice farmers and all those who contribute to the rice industry, while also bringing awareness to this locally-grown grain,” said Laura Giaccaglia, Bolivar County Extension Coordinator, who is responsible for producing the annual event along with Delta Rice Promotions President Candy Davis.  “We hope people who came enjoyed the wonderful rice dishes and left understanding the importance of supporting Mississippi rice farmers by purchasing local rice at the grocery store and while dining out.”
     
    USA Rice participated in the event as an exhibitor and provided attendees with rice information, recipes, and NRM promotional gifts.  

    “National Rice Month is all about celebrating harvest and supporting U.S. rice farmers,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “We look forward to the tasting luncheon each year because it allows us to educate the public about rice production and also enjoy delicious rice dishes.  One attendee even commented that she wasn’t aware rice could be prepared in so many different ways.”
  • Fisher Delta Center Celebrates 55th Annual Field Day

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 06, 2016
    Blunt talk
     MO Field Day 2

    ​PORTAGEVILLE, MO - USA Rice sponsored and exhibited at the University of Missouri Fisher Delta Center Field Day on Friday. More than 500 people, including producers, agribusiness representatives, and local, state and national elected officials, as well as many new candidates for office attended an appreciation breakfast before going on field tours.

    Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) were keynote speakers. Each emphasized the importance of agriculture research with the global population growth that is projected as well as highlighting the Environmental Protection Agency overreach that is harming American farmers.

    The field tours began late in the morning with the sun shining and perfect temperatures in the low 70’s, which made absorbing the valuable information presented that much easier.  The rice tour discussed Bootheel productivity of a number of different cultivars from each rice-producing state, the use of coal burning power plant’s byproduct of gypsum as a sulfur source for field applications, and discussed evaluations of new technology available for farm management. 

    One, a phone app called Crop Water Use from the University of Missouri, is designed to help schedule irrigation and predict rice growth stages.  Another phone app discussed is from Oklahoma State University and called Canopeo.  It analyzes photographs of your rice crop taken with your cell phone to create a threshold that could help make midseason N decisions.

    Both are excellent examples of technology helping farmers grow the food we need and love.

     

  • California Rice Research and Industry on Display

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 06, 2016
    Getting the lay of the land (Photo credit: Jim Morris)
     MS- CA Field Day

    BIGGS, CA – The University of California Rice Experiment Station held its annual field day here last week and USA Rice was on hand to participate.  President and CEO Betsy Ward and Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely toured the grower-funded research plots and heard from the University’s researchers who are working to further improve upon California’s high quality/high yielding varieties. It was a great opportunity to visit with hundreds of growers, researchers, industry advocates, and partners on a fine summer day in Biggs.

    The California Rice Commissions’ Executive Committee also met with Ward and Mosely to review policy and program alignment plans for the coming year and to discuss the importance of coordinated approaches on trade, communications, and farm policy. 

    In addition, The Sun Valley Rice Company in Arbuckle hosted a roundtable meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Darci Vetter and California rice industry leaders to discuss pending trade deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).  The California visit wrapped up with a trip to the rice farming operations of USA Rice Council Chair Sean Doherty in Dunnigan. 

    “I’m pleased we were able to participate in another excellent California field day,” said Ward.  “Dr. Kent McKenzie always puts on an impressive show, and I think he would agree that the grower funds are essential to the success in developing new rice varieties. It was good to have Ambassador Vetter on hand to see the care and precision that goes into growing the high quality California crop each year.”

    The California rice crop is proceeding well and acreage is back up to 560,000 – a 33 percent increase over what was planted last year.  Farmers are beginning to harvest this week and expect to be finished by mid-October.

  • 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo Celebrates Largest Production Year on Record

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 11, 2016
    Producers Rice Mill CEO Keith Glover
    2016-AR-Expo,-Keith-Glover
    STUTTGART, AR – Against the backdrop of reports of rice harvest in various pockets of the state, more than 1,000 people came out for Wednesday's Arkansas Rice Expo to celebrate the rice industry and the beginning of the 2016 rice harvest.  Arkansas is expected to produce more than fifty percent of the rice grown in the United States for the second consecutive year and have the largest production year on record.

    Attendees toured research plots, heard reports on new technology for in-bin rice drying and storage, factors impacting rice milling yields, and a look at UAV (drone) capabilities for Arkansas agriculture, and participated in a myriad of family-friendly activities.  Attendees also heard insights from Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), and Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) who started his professional career at Riceland.
     
    "I commend the University of Arkansas's Division of Agriculture for organizing this excellent event," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "Our job is to make sure there is demand both here and abroad for this new crop and I am excited about the new initiatives we are working on to help promote U.S.-grown rice, expand existing markets, and open new ones."

    In addition to attending the Rice Expo, USA Rice staff including Ward, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein, and Senior Director of Meetings and Member Services Jeanette Davis met with officials at Poinsett Rice, Windmill Rice, Southwind Milling Company, and visited with new USA Rice Chairman Brian King.  

    USA Rice also gave presentations at Tuesday's meeting of the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, and USA Rice Stewardship Partnership Coordinator Josh Hankins shared developments on the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project with the board.

  • Arkansas RiceTec Field Day Brings the Heat

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 04, 2016
    Hot new information
    2016 RiceTec-AR-Field-Day
    HARRISBURG, AR – When the 2016 Arkansas RiceTec Field Day started yesterday at 6:30 a.m. temperatures already were in the high 70s and by the time the field tours ended the mercury had climbed to the mid-90s.  The heat didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of growers and industry representatives there eager to learn about newly released rice varieties and ones on the horizon, new herbicide treatments, various water management practices, a new system for naming new varieties, and have the chance to visit with various industry vendors who were represented.

    Following the field tours, participants heard presentations from Bill Reed, senior vice president of public affairs at Riceland Foods, Tena Bresler, president of RiceTec, Inc., and Mike Gumina, global president & CEO of RiceTec, Inc., on topics such as Cuba, China, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), sustainability, water issues, and more.
  • USA Rice Millers’ Association Welcomes New Members

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jul 27, 2016
    Made in Missouri
    MO state outline with rice
    ARLINGTON, VA – This month the USA Rice Millers’ Association (RMA) welcomed a new Mill Member, Martin Rice Company of Bernie, Missouri, and a new associate member, Liberty, Missouri-based Douglas Products.

    The Martin Rice Company began on the farm and moved into milling more recently.

    “Our family started farming here in the 1940s on 160 acres and only got into milling in the last 16 years,” said Mike Martin, co-owner with his brothers Tim and David, and grandson of the founders.  “For a long time we considered ourselves farmers first and millers second, but given our growth over the years, I figured it was time to join the RMA.”

    The family farms more than 7,000 acres today and operates the northernmost rice mill in the southern U.S.

    “We are looking forward to learning from others in the industry and sharing our experiences,” Martin added.  “That’s a key benefit of an organization like RMA, in addition to having a united voice on issues of public policy whether they are on trade or nutrition.  I’m looking forward to becoming an active member of the organization.”

    Douglas Products is a leading provider of brands and services for production agriculture and structural pest control markets.  Commodity solutions the company offers include ProFume® and PH3.  The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

    RMA is one of the oldest agribusiness organizations in the United States and traces its roots back to 1899.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Weather, Technical Developments, Cuba, and the Rice Leadership Development Program Mark Louisiana Field Days

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 30, 2016
    Linscombe points the way forward
    Linscombe 

    KAPLAN and CROWLEY, LA – As growers know all too well, sometimes the weather just cooperates.  Such was the case this week when torrential and dangerous rains in some areas during the day suddenly gave way to cool evenings and one of the mildest LSU Field Days most can remember.

    On Wednesday, the LSU H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley hosted the 107th annual rice field day to large crowds and insightful presentations led by Dr. Steve Linscombe with other researchers from LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and private industry.

    New varieties – including a Clearfield hybrid; fungicide timing; the impact of Provisia, a new herbicide-tolerant technology, on weed control; and pests – including a new threat from Central America now being tracked in Texas; were covered during the field tours.  Researchers also shared the latest information on promising new techniques to maximize ratoon crops.  

    The sun came out just as the tours were concluding, chasing the hundreds of attendees inside for additional presentations and remarks from Jackie Loewer, Chairman of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, Jim Guinn, USA Rice Vice President of International Promotion, Ronnie Anderson, President of the Louisiana Farm Bureau, and others.

    While the crowd appreciated the fine work the LSU Ag Center staff are completing on behalf of the rice industry, talk of the potential opening of Cuba as a new market for U.S. rice dominated many discussions.

    “Cuba has great potential for us – at one time our top export destination,” said Guinn. “While USA Rice has an excellent relationship with the government and trade in Cuba, it’s going to take some more action by Congress before we can begin to realize the full potential of this market.”

    The evening before the LSU Field Day, more than 100 growers gathered at Christian Richard’s farm in Kaplan for the HorizonAg Field Day that featured exciting presentations, including varieties that Horizon’s General Manager Dr. Tim Walker is confident will satisfy the demanding expectations of Central American customers who are highly focused on quality.

    USA Rice staff attended the field days and gave presentations at meetings of the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board and the Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association (CenLARGA).

    “What struck me most perhaps about all of the activities was the number of graduates and current students in the Rice Leadership Development Program who were presenting,” Guinn added.  “From the HorizonAg host, Christian Richard, to the HorizonAg presenters in Dr. Walker, Michael Fruge, and Sunny Bottoms, to the LSU Field Day, led by Dr. Linscombe and Dr. Dustin Harrell, and John Earles Jr. in the CenLARGA organization.  It shows the success and reach of the program and that the graduates are doing exactly what is expected of them – leading the industry.”

    Leadership grads abound, from the left: Fruge, Bottoms, and Walker
     LA Field Day
  • Trade Policy Featured at Louisiana Farm Bureau Rice Meeting

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 27, 2016
    USA Rice's Bob Cummings
     Bob Cummings

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Rice Advisory Committee of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation (LAFBF) held its annual meeting in conjunction with the 94th annual LAFBF convention here on Saturday.  USA Rice's Chief Operating Officer Bob Cummings updated attendees on a range of trade policy issues, including challenges in key Louisiana rice export markets and the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

    Cummings noted that Mexico remains the number one U.S. rice export market and that milled rice is increasing as a share of exports. He noted that the U.S. enjoys an 83% market share, but that could change due to increasing competitiveness of Vietnamese rice if the TPP agreement is implemented.  He indicated that although milled rice imports are increasing in Mexico, Haiti remains the largest export market for U.S. milled rice.

    The U.S. agreement with Colombia was held up as an example of a well-negotiated and smartly-executed free trade agreement, but noted the need to resolve an existing phytosanitary restriction on imports of paddy rice, and secure year-round access to the lucrative market.   Colombia is the third largest U.S. rice export market with 2015 Louisiana exports valued at approximately $2.6 million.

    Cummings reported that opening the Cuban market remains a top priority for USA Rice noting that its efforts to reestablish trade with the island nation began in 1999 when John Denison, a past chairman of the LAFBF Rice Advisory Committee, was chairing USA Rice. 

    According to Cummings, a new Memorandum of Understanding between USA Rice and the Government of Cuba is being finalized that outlines technical exchanges and regular meetings and consultations between the parties that will pave the way for advantageous market positions once trade between the countries has been normalized.

    Cummings also shared his insights on other markets and topics of interest, including Iraq, ("a mess politically and economically"), China, ("mills are ready, waiting for the green light"), TPP, ("more clarification on details is needed"), and TTIP ("possibly the best hope for U.S. rice to get back into the European Union").

    Cummings closed his presentation with an update on the use of unfair domestic and export subsidies by advanced developing countries.  He noted that the Obama Administration is moving in the World Trade Organization to take these nations to task.

    "We greatly appreciate Bob taking time to come to New Orleans to bring us up to speed on trade policy that impacts each of us," said Donald Berken, LAFBF rice advisory committee chairman. "The news was a mixed bag, but I see positive developments and good opportunities for Louisiana rice in his report."

  • Rice Leadership Class Session One: The Gulf Coast

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 28, 2016
    Touring RiceTec, Inc.
    2016-18-Ldrsp-Class-at-RiceTec
    HOUSTON, TX and NEW ORLEANS, LA – Traditionally the Rice Leadership Development program’s first session occurs in the spring and begins with a tour through rice-producing areas of the Gulf Coast.  Stops in Texas and Louisiana include examination of rice production, milling, marketing, research, and other aspects of the U.S. rice industry.  

    Session I is also the class icebreaker as it’s the first time members spend quality together since the announcement of their selection at the USA Rice Outlook Conference a few months before.  

    On day one of the inaugural session earlier this month, class member Michael Bosworth, a rice farmer from Olivehurst, California, said, “From the outset, we appear to have a really strong group and we’re eager to get to know each other and start taking advantage of the unique opportunities the Leadership Class presents.”

    In addition to Bosworth, class members are:  Imran Khan, Chico, California; Allen McLain, Abbeville, Louisiana; Sidney Robnett, Stuttgart, Arkansas; Brandon Truax, Gillett, Arkansas; Sunny Bottoms, Dumas, Arkansas, with Horizon Ag; and Kris Riggs, Jonesboro, Arkansas, with Anheuser-Busch.

    In Texas the class visited Riviana Foods; RiceTec, Inc.; the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA); Doguet Rice Milling Company; Rice Belt Warehouse, the state’s largest storage facility; and several rice farms.

    Rice farmer Imran Khan was struck by the differences in farming practices in the south because “coming from California, with our specific cultural practices and varieties we plant, it’s been eye-opening to see the same crop done in a different way.”

    What impressed Sunny Bottoms most during the Texas leg of the session was “the reservoir being constructed by the LCRA near Lane City, Texas.  Being from Arkansas I’ve never had to worry that much about water availability, although it is a growing concern, and our issues are typically with groundwater availability, not surface water and urban sprawl.”

    Bottoms continued, “[The reservoir] is a massive undertaking:  5 miles in perimeter and 42 feet high.  We learned about many of the issues that had to be taken into consideration before building something of this magnitude; for instance, the seep wall that was being constructed underground before the levee could be built on top of it.  They were able to use the native soils at the site for much of the construction and only had to bring in some key ingredients.”     

    During their 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, the group met Mark Pousson, an alumnus of the program, and toured 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 from the Louisiana State University Rice Research Station, also an alumnus, to review the latest rice research information.  

    “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 bags for the rice industry,” said rice farmer Sidney Robnett.

    Bottoms agreed, saying, “This was one of those industries I hadn’t thought about before, and, of course, seeing how JohnPac makes their own fabric and weaves and inks the bags was neat.  But the thing that stuck in my mind the most was how every decision we make as an industry affects all sectors either positively or negatively.  So when we lose export markets, it hurts the bag industry as well because they are making a product that much of our export rice is shipped in.”

    Kris Riggs, with Anheuser-Busch, was fascinated by the Zaunbrecher Brothers family farming operation in Duson, Louisiana, and “the additional crawfish crop they are growing along with rice because diversification is starting to play an integral part in agriculture.”

    The final stop on the tour was New Orleans, where class members met with the Russell Marine Group to learn about river and barge logistics, toured a mid-stream barge/ship loading unit, and met with Eurofins, to learn about DNA and GMO testing in rice.  (Click here to see a short video of bulk rice loading onto a barge.)


    At the conclusion of the week-long session, Bottoms weighed in on the overall experience, saying, “Being able to talk with the other class members when we’re traveling around, the conversations with other growers and industry people who have completely different backgrounds and different experiences, you learn a lot from other passionate people in the same industry.”

    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.
  • USA Rice Connects with Thousands at Farm & Gin Show

    by Lee Brinckley | Feb 29, 2016
    MEMPHIS, TN – The just concluded 64th Annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show attracted thousands of attendees and more than 400 exhibitors, one of which was USA Rice.  

    USA Rice’s popular booth featured an exciting prize wheel that’s become a show favorite.  “Contestants” spin the wheel and must answer a trivia question about rice to receive a prize.  Topics include the nutritional value of rice, where rice is grown, rice’s sustainability record, and more, including some fun facts and trick questions that you can see in the video ​below.  Correct answers were rewarded with ThinkRice marshmallow rice treats, pens, colored pencils, and measuring cups.

    “We like to have fun with the folks with our trivia game,” said Randy Jemison, USA Rice director of Louisiana Field Services.  “A lot of exhibitors just give stuff away, but we make them work – and learn for it.  They come back year after year, a lot of times proud that they remember the question and answer we asked them last year.  And that’s what this is all about.”

    Jemison said USA Rice attends to connect with rice growers and to participate in the many educational seminars offered at the show.

    During his annual presentation for the Outlook on Rice and Wheat, Carl Brothers, senior vice president and COO of Riceland Foods, said that while the year started out strong and rough rice exports are still strong, milled rice exports are down.

    “I had hoped to come to Memphis a little more upbeat than I am, but we’ve got some tenders going on that we’re not sure what’s happening, and we are absolutely looking at other rice exporting countries that are not complying with the WTO obligations, making it very difficult for American rice farmers,” he said.

    Brothers said a bright side was a steady rise in U.S. domestic consumption that far outpaces population growth.  “Since 1980, rice consumption is up 271 percent, but population is up only about 40 percent,” he said.  “The upsurge is attributed to the rise in rice use in pet food and in the diet of Americans as demographics shift.”

    Milo Hamilton, founder of FirstGrain, also gave an interesting talk where he said water, and by extension, rice, are entering a phase of what he termed “Empire Commodities.”  He believes the Fossil Fuel Empire Commodities are declining in importance and water will be a new global standard.

    Test your rice knowledge at the 2016 Farm & Gin Show.

  • USA Rice Presents to Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board

    by Lee Brinckley | Feb 18, 2016
    USA Rice CFO Linda Sieh
    ms-2016-ar-mtg--linda-sieh-160218
    LITTLE ROCK, AR – USA Rice CFO Linda Sieh presented the annual USA Rice Council report to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) here Tuesday.

    Sieh provided the board with the financial report and results of the audits for all five organizations overseen by USA Rice, and also gave an update on opportunities and challenges the U.S. rice industry faces in international markets.  

    The ARRPB is made up of nine rice producers who are nominated by industry organizations and appointed to two-year terms by the governor.  The board is responsible for allocating Arkansas rice promotion and research check-off funds annually.  For the past 30 years, the ARRPB has awarded promotion funds to the USA Rice Council.

    “I appreciated the opportunity to report on work made possible by the financial resources entrusted to us by Arkansas,” Sieh said.  “On behalf of USA Rice, I also want to thank the Arkansas rice farmers and industry members who serve on the USA Rice Council board and on USA Rice domestic and international promotion committees.  Their participation is vital to USA Rice’s member-driven process for program development and implementation.”

    After the presentations on promotion results and USA Rice financials, the ARRPB approved the USA Rice Council’s request for funding in the fiscal year August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2017.