• Delta Research Center – Problem Solving for More Than One Hundred Years

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 03, 2017
    MS State Researcher Read Kelly
    STONEVILLE, MS -- The Delta Research and Extension Center (DREC), located here in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, is a component of Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine focusing the majority of its attention on research and extension activities in rice, cotton, corn, soybeans, and catfish production.

    The physical facilities and scope of research programs have increased since the station's inception in 1904.  DREC now covers about 4,700 acres total, including approximately 200 acres of federally-owned land.  Row crops are grown on about 1,800 acres, and soil types vary from very fine sandy loams to heavy clays making the research at DREC applicable to producers in a variety of soil environments.

    Research and extension faculty work cooperatively to solve crop and aquaculture production problems and relay new solutions to producers.  DREC strives to increase yields of commercial agriculture producers while also preserving the country’s natural resources and environment.

    “Our mission here at DREC is to provide producers with the most current information needed to make informed decisions on their farms to maximize profitability and sustainability,” said Dr. Jeffery Gore, entomology research professor at Mississippi State University.  “By transferring new research information and technology through extension education activities and methods we are able to focus on both the short and long term concerns of producers.”

    For example, Read Kelly, a Masters student under Dr. Gore, has concentrated his studies on the impacts of insect pests in rice.  “Dr. Gore and I are doing research on the impacts of insects such as the rice stink bug, rice water weevil, and fall armyworm on rice yields as well as the optimal methods of management for these pests,” said Kelly.  “The majority of my studies analyze the impact of water conservation and management practices on rice water weevil populations and control.”

    Another area of DREC’s research focuses on pollinators.  “We are also doing a lot of research to evaluate the occurrence of managed pollinators in rice fields throughout the mid-south to determine the potential impact of pesticide use,” Kelly added.  “It is important that researchers and farmers continue to work together to discover the best methods of treating the decline in pollinator populations and promote solutions that will benefit the insects as well as the farmers.”

    The work at DREC has had positive implications for producers across the mid-south and the country at large and research conducted here is a tangible example of the benefits that land-grant institutions such as Mississippi State University provide to not only producers, but consumers around the world by discovering innovative methods of producing safe, sustainable, and affordable sources of food and fiber.
  • USDA Estimates Rice Acreage Down 17 Percent

    by Michael Klein | Mar 31, 2017

    Can you check again?
    COMM-USDA Estimates Rice Acreage Down 17 Percent-170331

    WASHINGTON, DC - Area planted for rice in 2017 is expected to total 2.62 million acres, 524,000 less than in 2016, and back at the level planted in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service's Prospective Plantings report released today.  Planted acreage is forecast significantly lower for four of the six major rice-producing states with California almost unchanged at 539,000 acres and Louisiana down just eight percent to 400,000 acres.  Mississippi, which saw the largest percentage increase in 2016 (47 percent), will see the largest percentage decrease this year, down 38 percent to 120,000 acres.

    Long-grain, representing 73 percent of the total rice acreage, is expected to be 533,000 acres less than last year, with 360,000 of those acres being lost in Arkansas, the top rice producing state.  Medium-grain, now 25 percent of the total rice acreage, is projected to be up 1,000 acres to 666,000 - 72 percent of which is in California.  Area planted for all short-grain varieties, representing just two percent of production, is anticipated to be up 19 percent from last year's total.

    USA Rice Farmers Chairman and Missouri farmer Blake Gerard said, "With weak prices and uncertainty in our overseas markets, this dip in planting intentions is not very surprising. Here in Missouri, planting intentions are still somewhat in flux, but very soon the market and weather conditions are going to help solidify our decisions for the coming year."

    The USDA report is based on information supplied to USDA by growers, and though generally accurate within 5 percent, actual planted acres could vary.  The Rice Acreage Report, based on actual planted acres, will be published at the end of June.

  • 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."
  • Rice Field Day in Stoneville Draws a Crowd

    by Colleen Klem | Jul 19, 2016
    Dr. Bobby Golden presenting his research
     GA-Rice Field Day in Stoneville Draws a Crowd-160718

    STONEVILLE, MS - Today, the Delta Research and Extension Center (DREC) held their annual Rice Producer Field Day here to review this year's latest rice research, followed by the Mississippi Farm Bureau's (MFBF) Summer Rice Meeting in the Capps Center.

    During the field tour, research presentations were given on topics including weed and insect control, irrigation, rice breeding, etc. by: Dr. Bobby Golden, Dr. Jason Bond, Dr. Jeff Gore, Dr. Tom Allen, Dr. Jason Krutz, and Dr. Ed Redona.

    The MFBF's Rice Meeting had presentations by: Patrick Swindoll, Chairman of the MFBF Rice Advisory Committee; Mike McCormick, MFBF President; Kirk Satterfield, Vice Chairman of MFBF Rice Advisory Committee; John Campbell, Deputy Commissioner for MS Department of Agriculture and Commerce; Kay Whittington, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; and Ben Mosely, Vice President of Government Affairs for USA Rice.

    Mosely's remarks centered on legislative and regulatory updates from Washington along with a snapshot of the USA Rice work exploring sustainability. "Our Sustainability Committee met last week over the course of eight hours to help put together an industry-wide sustainability plan. USA Rice is pursuing a robust sustainability platform that is economically profitable, socially and environmentally responsible based on sound science and we're looking forward to working with Mississippi as it unfolds," he said.

    In regards to advocacy on Capitol Hill, Mosely added, "USA Rice has been tearing up the pavement in Washington to gain significant access to markets for U.S.-grown rice. Our efforts are starting to show through the recent increases in U.S. rice programmed in international food aid, the rice-specific MOU signed by the U.S. and Iraq, the MOU underway between USA Rice and Cuba, and with the opportunity to normalize agricultural trade with Cuba closer than it's been in 50 years."

    Kirk Satterfield, Mississippi rice farmer and member of the USA Rice Farmers Board of Directors said, "I'm really happy to have USA Rice as a regular part of our program here at our Mississippi Farm Bureau's Rice Meeting, our hard work to become a member state within the Federation has really paid off. We're looking forward to continuing our work with both the USA Rice Farmers Board and the broader Federation and represent Mississippi during policy debates and formulating our positions for the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations."

  • Field Report: Mississippi

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jul 11, 2016
    AWD in action
    AWD on Nat McKnight's MS Farm
    CLEVELAND, MS— Growers in the area were presumably celebrating slightly more than the average American over the Fourth of July weekend due to a much-needed rain following a 25 day long dry spell.  Nat McKnight, a grower and member of the 2015-2017 Rice Leadership Development Class, reports that his rice, corn, and soybean crops are thriving, especially after the recent wet weather.

    According to McKnight, 3-5 percent of the rice is already headed in Mississippi and within two weeks roughly 60 percent of the crop will be headed.

    With 50-60 percent of the crop past mid-season, growers are currently focusing on irrigating the fields.  During this stage in the rice growing cycle, McKnight employs intermediate flooding, a conservation tactic that distributes water to the crop strategically in measured spurts over the course of several days.

    McKnight reports that the crop looks very good this year and most Mississippi growers will harvest their rice starting the last week of August.  However, the main challenge comes after the harvest.

    Last year, 149,000 acres of rice were grown in Mississippi, and the projected acreage for this year is 200,000.  The other five rice-growing states are experiencing the same increase in rice acreage this year.  A concern voiced by many growers including McKnight is that this year’s high acreage could result in low prices due to market limitations.

    While McKnight expresses optimism at the prospect of breaking into the Cuban market and gaining a steadier hold in Iraq, he also sees great potential domestically.  

    “I would like to see us eventually increase the annual average consumption of rice in the United States another 5-10 pounds per person,” said McKnight.  (Americans currently eat a little more than 26 pounds of rice per person each year.)  “Even in Bolivar County, where we are the largest rice-producing county in the state, some local restaurants do not have rice on the menu.  We have to keep pushing the message out there that rice is healthy, affordable, and can be used in so many different ways for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Customers should be looking for U.S. rice on menus.  Of course, our exports are important, but I see a lot of promise right here at home as well.”

  • Mississippi Rice Council Meets

    by Lee Brinckley | Feb 12, 2016

    CLEVELAND, MS - USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward discussed trade prospects in key export markets at the Mississippi Rice Council Annual Meeting on Thursday.  Ward pointed to the Colombia FTA as an example of how powerful and beneficial good, common-sense trade agreements can be. "Not only did we create a new market for our rice, but the benefits are spread throughout the rice industry, funding important industry research that helps us improve the quality, sustainability, and marketability of our rice," she said.  Mississippi rice research has received over $2 million dollars since the agreement was signed.

    In addition to trade, Ward shared highlights of the domestic promotion programs with the group.

    USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely reported that with the presidential election season, the closing months of the Obama Administration, and a relatively light legislative calendar for Congress there is little chance of major policy initiatives moving forward in Washington. Mosely also talked about opportunities for rice in Cuba, USA Rice’s efforts to combat illegal rice subsidies for rice producers in other countries, and the need to continue to protect the farm bill from attacks in the budgetary process.

    Bobby Golden with Mississippi State University gave the rice research report and projections for the coming rice crop and Michael Ledlow gave the Mississippi Plant Board report focusing on looming worker protection laws that could greatly impact farm operations.

    "The meeting was a total success with informative reports from the top leadership of USA Rice regarding the future of the rice industry," said Curtis Berry, Mississippi Rice Council President.

  • In Arkansas and Mississippi, EQIP Aplenty

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 06, 2015
    Well EQIP-ed
    Combine in Mud
    ARLINGTON, VA – USA Rice along with Ducks Unlimited and more than 40 other partners are celebrating their most recent milestone as part of the Sustaining the Future of Rice project and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of two programs utilized by the project, collected a total of 334 applications when the sign-up period closed last month in Arkansas and Mississippi.  

    The other conservation program used within the project is the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    The project includes implementation of conservation practices on working ricelands in the six primary rice-growing states using a $10 million investment from the NRCS and $6.8 million in private funds.

    USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely said, “These numbers have far exceeded our expectations and we’re confident that with a deep pool of applicants in both states we’ll be able to fund projects on the most environmentally sensitive rice-growing acres for the most effective results possible.”

    Applicants selected in this round of funding will be notified in early 2016 so they can begin implementing practices immediately.  

    The EQIP sign-up period for Louisiana and Missouri is open until Friday, November 20.  Sign-up in California and Texas is anticipated to begin later this winter and CSP sign-ups in all six states will happen late in 2016.

    Farmers in Louisiana and Missouri interested in learning more about EQIP and submitting an application should consult their local county or parish NRCS offices prior to the submission deadline.
  • Mississippi Rice Farmer Named White House ‘Champion of Change’

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 27, 2015
    Buddy Allen with wife, Allison, and daughter, Yates
    Buddy-Allen-& Family
    WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Buddy Allen, a rice farmer from Tunica, Mississippi, was lauded as a ‘Champion of Change in Sustainable Agriculture’ at a ceremony at the White House.  Allen was one of twelve champions across all of agriculture recognized for taking steps to improve the sustainability of their operations, and educating others to do the same.  To see an excerpt of the event, go here.

    Allen believes in “practicing what you preach” when it comes to the sustainability arena and spends a lot of time and capital implementing soil and water conservation practices on his rice farm.  In reference to the critical importance of water to farming, Allen said, “Rice is a significant water-using crop which gives us a lot of opportunity to make an impact in conservation and stewardship.  Collectively, we’ve learned how to raise rice in the Deep South with about half the water we used to.  We’ve worked very diligently, and we’re really proud of the partnerships we have with our commodity groups like the [USA] Rice Federation.  ”

    Allen has installed a tailwater recovery system to recycle irrigation water; instituted laser land-leveling to further reduce water use and soil runoff; experimented with using a large number of irrigation practices based on geographic conditions, and installed moisture sensors to help with irrigation efficiency.

    USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward said, “Buddy serves as a role model for our industry by leading efforts to implement agricultural practices that benefit soil, air, and water quality.  He is a Rice Leadership alumni, a member of the USA Rice Conservation Committee, and known for being a great steward of the land.  We congratulate him on receiving this acknowledgement from the Obama administration.”
  • Rice is at the Center of Plate at Mississippi Lunch

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 22, 2015
    Worth the wait
    DP-Delta Rice Luncheon-CROPPED-150922 
    CLEVELAND, MS – Last Friday, Delta Rice Promotions, Inc. sponsored the 25th 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 people from across Mississippi joined the festivities to support local agriculture and visit a variety of educational exhibits.  Added to the activities this year was a rice recipe cook-off won by a dish called Spicy Rice Bites.

    “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.”

    USA Rice participated in the event as an exhibitor and provided attendees with rice information, recipes, and NRM promotional gifts.
  • USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Begin RCPP Project Implementation

    by Colleen Klem | Aug 07, 2015
    Application formIt's time
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited (DU) will officially kick off implementation of their Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) joint project, “Sustaining the Future of Rice”, that was announced in January 2015.

    RCPP is funded through the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The USA Rice-DU project matches private and federal funding to help pay for conservation work completed through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited were awarded $10 million in Federal funding with $6.8 million contributed by nearly 40 partner organizations and businesses.

    “Our two organizations have worked very hard over the last year-and-a-half to make sure this project is a success,” said Jeff Durand, a Louisiana rice grower and the USA Rice chairman of the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership.  “It’s important that as many rice farmers sign-up and submit applications as possible this year to make sure they get a chance to participate.”

    California rice grower and the Ducks Unlimited chairman of the partnership, Al Montna, echoed his enthusiasm for the project.

    “We cannot stress enough the close relationship between waterfowl and the rice industry and how much they need each other,” he said.  “What’s good for rice is good for ducks, and vice versa, and the RCPP is a natural fit for our vital conservation efforts.  We look forward to continuing this strong, successful partnership beyond this first project.”

    Next week’s implementation will begin with sign-ups opening for EQIP applications for ricelands in Arkansas and Mississippi. Applications will be due to local NRCS offices in qualifying counties by October 16, 2015 to be ranked and awarded funding.

    “This is a two-year project, but funding is limited and we want to ensure farmers have enough time to install the necessary EQIP practices,” said Durand.

    The other four states covered by the partnership: California, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, will begin their EQIP sign-ups later this fall. Sign-up for CSP is set to begin in each of the six rice states late in 2016.

  • Senator Wicker Addresses 80th Annual Delta Council Meeting

    by User Not Found | Jun 01, 2015
    Senator Roger Wicker
     Senator Wicker Addresses 80th Annual Delta Council Meeting
    CLEVELAND, MS -- Roger Wicker, U.S. Senator for Mississippi delivered the keynote address at the 80th Annual Delta Council meeting here on May 29.  Wicker praised the Delta Council for the broad scope of their activities and the impact the organization has had in the region, and reaffirmed his commitment to Mississippi's agriculture industry which is deeply rooted in the Delta. The annual event is widely attended and sponsored by a variety of agricultural organizations including the Mississippi Rice Promotion Board.

    Members of Delta 1000 also heard from Jere Nash and Andy Taggart, co-authors of Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2006, who offered a "Red-Blue Review" of the 2015 campaign for state positions in Mississippi as a possible harbinger for the national elections in 2016.

    USA Rice Federation Chairman Dow Brantley attended along with USA Rice staff and was impressed with the large crowd and high level of participation from key Mississippi leaders.

    Brantley said, "This was my first Delta Council meeting and it was great to see all the rice grower leadership, and learn about the good work Delta Council does each and every year serving farmers and the community."

    Contact:  Ben Mosely (703) 236-1471