• USA Rice Releases Survey on New Programming at 2017 Outlook Conference

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 21, 2017
    ARLINGTON, VA – Already the premier rice event in North America, the USA Rice Outlook Conference is working on expanding offerings for attendees in 2017.  USA Rice is exploring adding programming that would provide participants Continuing Education Units (CEUs).  A just-released survey to members, including past and prospective attendees, will help gauge interest in specific topics.

    “This year’s conference is in San Antonio and there is so much room available to us at the refurbished convention center we thought this would be a great opportunity to turn large meeting rooms into classrooms, bring in qualified presenters, and offer programming that helps our members improve their bottom lines,” said Michael Klein, vice president of marketing, communications, and domestic promotion for USA Rice.  “The first question is, ‘would you take advantage of CEUs?’  Then we describe a bunch of possible courses and ask survey respondents to share ideas we may have missed.”

    Klein said everything from crop consulting and nutrient management to understanding the futures market and keeping your office organized is on the table.

    “There’s no limit to the topics we could offer attendees,” he said. “But it would be very helpful if members would take about 10 minutes to fill out the survey to help us prioritize the options.”

    Klein added that there’s a section where survey respondents can recommend a person or company to be a presenter at the conference.  The survey can be found here and will be kept open until the end of the month.

    The 2017 USA Rice Outlook Conference will be held December 10-12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference Highlights

    by Michael Klein | Dec 14, 2016
    It was the place to be
    Outlook-Memphis logo no text 

    MEMPHIS, TN – Welcoming everyone to the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference last week, host-state representative and Mississippi rice farmer Kirk Satterfield explained, “The conference has grown so much and is still growing that we had to move to Memphis to find a venue big enough to accommodate all the attendees and exhibits.  We certainly appreciate the level of participation.”

    USA Rice Chairman Brian King echoed that sentiment:  “It’s encouraging to see so many in the industry come out - it shows we’re on the right track and offering good value to our customers.  Attendance this year was close to 800 and I attribute that statistic to excellent programming - from exciting keynote speakers like NASA Astronaut Michael Massimino, Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, and crowd-favorite 2017 Miss America Savvy Shields - to the new Innovation Stage, centrally located in the Exhibit Hall that was bursting at the seams with 59 exhibitors.”

    “Moving the New Products & Technology seminar to the Innovation Stage concept in the middle of the Exhibit Hall fostered more interaction between members and exhibitors,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “We really appreciate all of our exhibitors and sponsors for their support and are always looking for ways to help them promote their products and services.”

    Ward also said the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon was a conference highlight.  “Attendees heard moving speeches from the award winners, got to meet the 2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Program class, and see the winning entry in the first ever National Rice Month Scholarship video contest,” she said.

    Between traditional program offerings like state outlook and rice research reports from all six major rice-producing states, USA Rice showcased several videos, including the P.F. Chang’s Farm-to-Wok video featuring Arkansas rice farmers Jennifer James and Dow Brantley that captures the artistry of rice farming and tells the story of the U.S.-grown grain.

    This year’s conference included two panels focusing on conservation and sustainability practices in the rice industry that was moderated by outgoing Chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Jason Weller who spoke eloquently about the importance of industries telling their stories. (click here to see his full remarks)

    “In my view, production agriculture is sustainable agriculture, full stop,” Chief Weller said in touching closing remarks.  “You guys need to stand up and be proud of what you do, you need to advocate for what you do, and you need to do it in a way that connects with people who aren’t familiar with production agriculture.”

    Weller said he figured this would be his last public appearance as NRCS Chief, at least before a commodity group, and he had the date circled on his calendar for some time.

    “I am so proud of the partnership NRCS has with the rice industry and I wanted to be here personally to thank you all for your commitment to being partners with us to invest in conservation and really be national leaders – not just regional or local leaders – but national leaders in production agriculture."

    “Add up all the good information from the sessions and exhibits, plus getting to see an astronaut and Miss America in the same conference, and you’re getting your money’s worth,” concluded Satterfield.

    The Outlook conference is the largest annual rice-specific gathering in North America and is an educational service of USA Rice.  Next year’s conference is scheduled for December 10-12 in San Antonio, Texas.

  • On Tap for 2017 - Crop, Political, and Export Outlook

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 13, 2016
    Click here to view interview with Ambassador Jones
    US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones
    MEMPHIS, TN – Looking ahead to challenges in 2017 was the theme of the final day of the annual USA Rice Outlook Conference.

    “The U.S. rice industry has a dedicated and powerful ally in Ambassador Stuart Jones,” explained Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice in introducing the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to the capacity crowd on Friday morning.  “The insights he gave us on Iraq and the entire Middle East, and the direct advocating he did with the government of Iraq on our behalf are unique in my experience. We were fortunate to have him in Baghdad and here with us today.”

    Jones shared how he worked with the government of Iraq to reinforce the positive attributes of U.S. rice: “reliable, high-quality, and dependable,” and the Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on U.S. rice that he helped make a reality.

    “We won some tenders and lost some tenders, but I’m encouraged by the steps the government of Iraq is taking, and while I don’t want to overpromise, I think U.S. rice is well-positioned going into the new year,” Jones said.

    The Friday afternoon sessions offered up 2017 projections from conference veterans and crowd favorites Nathan Childs and Jim Wiesemeyer.

    Childs, Senior Economist at the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, gave an overview of global and domestic trends in rice production and trade. His detailed statistics and analysis are an invaluable resource to those involved in the rice industry, and this year was no exception. While the outlook was not favorable for the top five rice-exporting countries – including the U.S. – due to an abundant supply overseas pushing competitors’ prices even lower than our own, attendees left the session well-informed about what lies ahead.

    The anchor position was once again held by Jim Wiesemeyer, Senior Vice President of Informa Economics IEG. During his talk, Wiesemeyer dissected the results of the presidential election and forecasted what he sees ahead for U.S. agriculture in a Trump administration, for instance less regulation and probable SNAP reform. He opined that 2018 Farm Bill negotiations would be pushed back to late 2017.   

    Attendees had many questions for Wiesemeyer about President-elect Trump’s policies and who he might appoint to cabinet positions.  Wiesemeyer cautioned speculation is rampant in Washington, but if we continue to monitor Twitter, we’ll know details soon enough.

  • 2016 Rice Award Winners Recognized at USA Rice Outlook Conference

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 13, 2016
    2016 Rice Award Winners (from left):
    Steve Linscombe, Gary Sebree, and Richard Fontenot. Click here to view video interview with Gary Sebree.
    2016 Rice-Award-Winners
    MEMPHIS, TN – The USA Rice Outlook Conference is where the U.S. rice industry meets, to share information, network, and honor the accomplishments of industry leaders at the annual Rice Awards Luncheon. This year's awards ceremony celebrated three individuals for their contributions and achievements:   Richard Fontenot, farmer of the year, Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice industry award winner and Gary Sebree, rice lifetime achievement award.

    Richard Fontenot is a fifth generation rice farmer whose family legacy in Evangeline Parish is one of innovation, conservation, and industry advocacy.  He and his brother, Neal, operate R & N Farms growing rice, soybeans, and crawfish, and also run a precision leveling business.  Their family tradition of being at the forefront of modernization began in the early 1900s and continues today with Fontenot’s work with rice researchers, equipment dealers, and youth programs such as 4-H and FFA.  Off the farm, Fontenot is an active advocate for the rice industry, serving on the Louisiana Rice Research Board as well as the board of directors of USA Rice and USA Rice Farmers.  He says, “Without the support and counsel of my family, I would not have been able to participate in rice industry and agriculture advocacy activities.”

    Over the last thirty years, Louisiana’s rice yield has nearly doubled - from 3,800 pounds in 1983 to 7,500 pounds in 2015 – thanks in large part to Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter Rice Research Station, and his rice breeding program.  Linscombe and his staff have developed 32 new rice varieties that have dramatically improved production practices and environmental advantages for farmers in Louisiana and around the world.  According to Fred Zaunbrecher, a farmer and member of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, the widespread use of varieties originating from the AgCenter is evidence of the facility’s impact on the rice industry.

    Gary Sebree was recognized for his successful farming operation in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and also for his industry leadership role at both the state and national level over the past 50 years.  As a visionary in conservation practices, innovative technology, and trade relationships, Sebree has been instrumental in crafting policy that will affect generations to come.  He explained, “I’ve been fortunate because farming has never been a job, and I don’t plan to give it up but want to hang around long enough to hand over the operation to my grandson who also wants to farm.”

    “Rice Farming magazine is proud to sponsor the annual Rice Awards along with Horizon Ag and USA Rice,” says Editor Vicky Boyd. “Since 1992, rice industry leaders have been recognized for their dedication, determination and innovation in the U.S. rice industry.  As they have done in the past, award recipients continue to provide leadership and inspiration to all segments of the U.S. rice industry. It’s our pleasure to honor these outstanding people for their contributions and achievements.”
  • Ducks Unlimited Snags Rice Industry’s Conservation Awards

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 09, 2016
    DU award winners receive well-deserved recognition
    MEMPHIS, TN – Yesterday, the rice industry’s ever growing role in the conservation and sustainability sphere was spotlighted during the annual awards luncheon of this year’s USA Rice Outlook Conference.

    Dr. Scott Manley, director of conservation innovation for Ducks Unlimited (DU) was the recipient of USA Rice’s 2016 Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award.  Manley works out of the DU Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Mississippi, where he oversees staff for the organization that who work directly on the National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP) project.

    Leo LaGrande, California rice farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee, said, “Scott was one of the architects behind bringing together USA Rice and DU to form the Rice Stewardship Partnership and as the son-in-law of a rice farming family and an avid waterfowl hunter, he has long been familiar with the synergistic benefits that rice and ducks provide for one another.”

    LaGrande added, “Scott has worked hard to make the partnership successful and is often joked about as a joint employee for both organizations.”

    The praise didn’t end there for DU as USA Rice presented a special award, the 2016 USA Rice Conservation Communications Award, to the Ducks Unlimited Communications Team that works closely with Manley on the Rice Stewardship Partnership’s outreach and education efforts.

    Award recipients include: Karen Almand, Graphic Designer; Clay Baird, Video Productions; Katie Burke, Heritage Center Curator; Andi Cooper, Southern Region Communications Specialist; and Greg Taras, Communications Productions.

    LaGrande highlighted the DU team’s credentials, saying, “Part of the challenge that our industry faces within the realm of conservation and sustainability is our effectiveness at telling our story in a way that connects with consumers and the general public.  This DU communications team has truly excelled at producing top-notch, professional resources that can be used by our sponsors, our farmers, and the media and they’ve been able to tout our successes in immeasurable ways.”

    This year marked the seventh time USA Rice has presented its Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award and the first time that a Conservation Communications Award has been given.

  • National Rice Month Scholarship Awarded to First Ever Video Contest Grand Prize Winner

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 09, 2016
    Click here to view interview with grand prize winner
    MEMPHIS, TN – Heaven McKinley, a senior at Irving High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, is the recipient of this year’s National Rice Month Scholarship grand prize for her video titled “Power Plants.”  Leslie Rogers of Dow AgroSciences and USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward presented the award to McKinley during the annual Awards Luncheon at the USA Rice Outlook Conference here yesterday.

    “The contest went to an all video format this year and competition was fierce,” said Ward.  “The creativity and quality of the student videos telling the story of U.S. rice was astounding, and I know the judges struggled to choose a winner out of the field of eighteen entrants.”

    While McKinley is from a rice-producing state, she did not grow up on a farm or even in an agricultural area.  But she does love rice!  McKinley explained, “One of the things that attracted me to apply for this scholarship, aside from the opportunity to explore rice, a staple in my diet, was the opportunity to creatively present the ways that rice agriculture affects the whole globe, from the economy to the environment.”

    Like a lot of high school seniors across the country, McKinley is still in the process of applying for college admission, but no matter which school she chooses, she intends to study environmental sciences.

    High school graduating students from rice-growing states -- Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas -- are eligible for three scholarship prizes, totaling $8,500, awarded each year.  The grand-prize winner receives a $4,000 scholarship and a trip with a chaperone to the USA Rice Outlook Conference. 

    The second-place winner receives a $3,000 scholarship, and third-place $1,500. This year, second place was awarded to Angela Lee of Los Angeles, California, for her video, “Rice Production in California.”  There was a tie for third place and Ana Little-Sana from San Diego, California, and Max Morrison of Yuba City, California, each received $1,500 scholarships for their videos, “Think Local, Think Rice,” and “National Rice Month Promotions.”

  • USA Rice Outlook Conference Kicks Off

    by Katie Maher | Dec 08, 2016
    NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino (right)
    shares his a copy of his new book with
    USA Rice Chairman Brian King
    MEMPHIS, TN – The 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference got underway here last night with an opening reception in the exhibit hall and a fundraising dinner for the USA Rice Political Action Committee.  And today’s General Session opened with a host state welcome from Mississippi rice farmer Kirk Satterfield followed by keynote speakers Shelly Van Treeck with Kellogg Company and former NASA Astronaut Michael Massimino.

    Van Treek, the global chief procurement officer for Kellogg, said the company’s core business driver is climate smart agriculture and helping farmers improve yields in the face of climate challenges.  “Sustainable agriculture is at the heart of what we do,” Van Treeck said.  “Climate change is a core business driver so enabling and fueling growth for us means using fewer natural resources.”  She talked about the importance of rice in manufacturing different Kellogg products, including the ubiquitous Rice Krispies, but also the more than 180 flavors of Pringles chips!

    Massimino thanked the rice industry for producing a great tasting already dehydrated food that’s easy to eat in zero gravity.  He said food, real food, was important to the space program not just for its nutritional value but also the psychological element.  “Thank you for what you do, growing food for all of us to eat - that by the way, we love eating in space,” said Massimino.  He shared video of a crewmate grabbing a bite out of a burrito as it floated by in space and talked about making rice pilaf as one of his favorite meals on the Space Shuttle.

    The early morning schedule included the debut of the Innovation Stage centrally located in the Exhibit Hall.  “The new Innovation Stage was a big hit and showcased the latest and greatest technology has to offer the industry,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “We really appreciate all of our exhibitors and sponsors for their support and knew the change in venue would move their messages front and center.”

    Ward said the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon was a conference highlight.  “Attendees met the National Rice Month Scholarship winner, Heaven McKinley, and saw her award winning video. They heard moving speeches from the Rice Award winners, got to meet the 2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Program class, and reconnected with people in the industry that they may not have seen since the year before,” she said.

    The Outlook conference is the largest annual rice-specific gathering in North America and is an educational service of USA Rice.  Next year’s conference is scheduled for December 10-12 in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Rice Industry Floods Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center in Memphis

    by Katie Maher | Dec 07, 2016
    Rice and ducks: a model for sustainability
    MEMPHIS, TN -- This week, members of the U.S. rice industry are poring over the exhibit cases of the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center in the BassPro Shops at the Memphis Pyramid during the annual USA Rice Outlook Conference held here.  

    The special exhibit, dedicated to ricelands stewardship, opened to the public in September in conjunction with National Rice Month.  The interactive exhibit space provides educational opportunities that explain the unique, synergistic relationship between rice and ducks.

    USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward said, “We’re encouraging all of our attendees, while they’re in town this week, to visit the Waterfowling Heritage Center to better appreciate the intrinsic link between waterfowl and working ricelands, and to see an example of the conservation story we should be telling again and again to our consumers."

    Ward added, “This is a great opportunity for USA Rice to tout the success of the Rice Stewardship Partnership, the National Rice RCPP project, and other collaborations with an audience we may not typically be reaching through our regular communications channels.”

    The Heritage Center is a popular stop within the heavily-trafficked BassPro Shops with an annual attendance estimated at close to half a million visitors.  And just an elevator ride away is The Lookout restaurant atop The Pyramid that proudly serves U.S.-grown rice!
  • Memphis Restaurants Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice

    by Katie Maher | Dec 06, 2016
    Look for the emblem
    memphis restaurants
    MEMPHIS, TN -- Each year, USA Rice teams up with restaurants in the host city of the USA Rice Outlook Conference to promote local establishments that serve U.S.-grown rice.  This year, members can again look forward to an expansive selection of highly-rated restaurants that will satisfy every palate and price point.

    The twelve restaurants participating in this year’s promotion will display “We Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice” window clings provided by USA Rice.  Many restaurants expressed a desire to keep the emblem up year-round to support U.S. rice farmers.

    “I love seeing to see so many restaurants committed to using locally-sourced ingredients like rice,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice’s director of domestic promotion.  “We hope those attending the USA Rice Outlook Conference will visit these restaurants that are actively supporting the U.S. rice industry.”    

    Maher said the annual promotion helps increase awareness of U.S.-grown rice on several levels.

    “We use this program as an opportunity to talk about U.S. rice with chefs and managers, and they in turn educate their staff – both in the kitchen and on the floor,” she said.  “It brings us new r ice ambassadors and gets people talking about U.S. rice – even after Outlook is gone.”

    “We use tons of U.S. rice because gumbo and Yazoo Creole Rice with crawfish and shrimp are two of our most popular dishes,” said Wes Walker, a manager at B.B. King’s Blues Club, one of the participating restaurants on nearby Beale Street.  “Tell everybody to stop by B.B. King’s!  We love a crowd and we’re all hands on deck, ready, and waiting.”
  • Innovation Stage Debuts at 2016 Outlook Conference

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 02, 2016
    Forrest Laws
    ARLINGTON, VA -- An exciting new addition to this year’s USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis next week is the “USA Rice Innovation Stage,” centrally-located in the conference Exhibit Hall.  Find the USA Rice booth and the Innovation Stage will be right behind it.  

    The Outlook Conference is the largest conference in North America dedicated specifically to rice, and the Innovation Stage is where the crowd can go to hear about the latest and greatest technology and services on offer for the industry.

    The Innovation Stage program will start each morning at 7:45 a.m. and be moderated by Forrest Laws, the director of content for Farm Press.

    “Farmers are always looking for the next new idea that will help make their job easier or improve their bottom lines,” said Laws.  “We’re going to see a lot of exciting technology and services at the Innovation Stage this year and those sessions will be ‘must-attends’ for growers looking for a better way.”

    The full schedule will be posted in the Outlook Conference Exhibit Hall, but attendees won’t want to miss presentations on Thursday with Central Life Sciences, Food Protection Services, FMC, CASEIH, Relevant Solutions, Arkansas Rice Research & Extension Center, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, and Creed Rice Company.  

    Friday’s schedule includes presenters from Gowan USA, John Deere Company, Horizon Ag, ICL Specialty Fertilizers, Firstgrain, Valent USA Corporation, Thiele Technologies, Propane Education & Research Council, and Premier Grain Cleaner Company.
  • Conservation and Sustainability - Beyond the Buzz

    by Katie Maher | Nov 16, 2016
    Not that kind of deep dive
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Marketers and trend watchers constantly tell us that today's customers are demanding more information about what they are eating and also how their food is being produced, and they use buzzwords like conservation and sustainability to push this agenda.  At next month's USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, attendees will be able to take a deep dive into this conversation with a two-part panel that will examine both practical, on-farm conservation practices and in-market sustainability trends.  No matter where in the rice supply chain attendees are, they will not want to miss this valuable session that immediately follows the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon.
    The sessions will be moderated by USDA’S Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Jason Weller, whose leadership and vision of partner-driven conservation on private working lands has enabled the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership program to flourish.  Part one is all about water conservation.  Expert panelists, including Dr. Michele Reba, research hydrologist, and Dr. Joe Massey, research agronomist, both with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Trey Cooke, executive director of Delta F.A.R.M.; and Michael Sullivan, NRCS State Conservationist for Arkansas, tackle important topics such as field design and resulting water quantity, irrigation methods, and existing technology all designed to help the rice farmer use water as efficiently as possible.  They'll also talk about programs that offer farmers assistance for making land and technology improvements.

    Part two is a discussion on sustainability.  It means different things to different people, but no matter what it means to you, if you are in the rice business, you won't want to miss this session.  Panelists Mary Grady, director of business development with Winrock International's American Carbon Registry; Amy Braun, sustainability director with Kellogg Company; Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market; and Jennifer James, Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee will talk about the United Nations Paris Agreement and its impact on the average U.S. rice farmer.  The panel also will cover sustainable food sourcing, Field to Market's Field Print Calculator that seeks to quantify the environmental benefits of rice farming, and the USA Rice Sustainability Plan, and what this industry-wide, multi-sector plan means for your company or operation.
    It's not too late to get in on the conversation, although the original hotel block at the Sheraton is sold out.  Rooms are available at the Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown Hotel across the street and you can make a reservation by calling 1-866-310-1173 and asking for the special USA Rice rate of $140.  If you have any questions or issues, contact Jeanette Davis at jdavis@usarice.com or 703-236-1447.
    The USA Rice Outlook Conference is the largest conference in North America dedicated specifically to rice.  This year's conference will be held in Memphis, December 7-9.

  • What Do an Astronaut, a Kellogg Executive, and a U.S. Ambassador Have in Common?

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 22, 2016
    2016 Outlook Headliners (from left): Massimino,
    Van Treeck, and Jones
    2016 Outlook-3-Speakers
    ARLINGTON, VA – All three will be speaking at the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, December 7-9 and you won’t want to miss any of them!  

    The keynote address on Thursday, December 8 will be given by Dr. Michael Massimino, Ph.D, a former NASA Astronaut and current Columbia University professor who has the distinction of being the first person to Tweet from space! Massimino had a distinguished career as an astronaut; he and his shuttle crews traveled faster and higher than any other astronauts in the 21st century, and he performed the most dangerous and complex repair job in history when he and his crew repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.  He is an author and serves as a science consultant for the popular TV sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, where he sometimes plays himself.

    Shelly Van Treeck, Global Chief Procurement Officer for the Kellogg Company, the world’s leading cereal company and second largest user of rice in the United States with sales last year of $13.5 billion, will address conference attendees on her company’s vision, sustainability, and the great partnership between the rice industry and Kellogg.

    Followers of the rice industry know that the U.S. has had a tough time in Iraq for the last several years.  USA Rice has led the way on this side of the Atlantic with help from Members of Congress and the Obama Administration.  On the other side of the Atlantic U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones has been a tireless advocate for U.S. rice.  Ambassador Jones will address the crowd at Outlook this year to share his thoughts on the region – what came to pass in Iraq, and what lies ahead.

    And that’s just the first two hours!

    Additional program details are available online, and will be announced here in the USA Rice Daily in the coming weeks.  So register now and book your stay at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel.

    We’ll let you know when you can hear crowd favorites Jim Weisemeyer and Nathan Childs; what is being planned for the Conservation & Sustainability Outlook Session; and just what is a USA Rice Innovation Stage?  (Hint: it’s in the middle of the 37,000+ square foot Exhibit Hall.)
    Companies interested in Outlook sponsorships, exhibiting, or learning right now about the Innovation Stage should contact Jeanette Davis at USA Rice at (703) 236-1447.
  • New Edition of Whole Grain Showcases National Rice Month and More

    by Michael Klein | Sep 07, 2016
    All the rice news that fits
    COMM-New Edition of Whole Grain Showcases National Rice Month and More-160907

    ARLINGTON, VA – The latest issue of USA Rice’s groundbreaking publication, Whole Grain, is being distributed this week to more than 25,500 rice industry members around the country.  As always, the newspaper is loaded with important and exciting stories about National Rice Month, key international markets, and the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference, and much more.

    Readers will learn about the wonderful RiceGiving program created by USA Rice and international upscale Asian restaurant chain, P.F. Chang’s; retail promotions driving consumer rice sales; and the updated National Rice Month Scholarship program.

    Writers also provided updates on Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as highlighting recent developments in the United Kingdom and with food aid programs.

    The LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station is profiled, as is California grower Sean Doherty, and the Rice Leadership Development Program.

    A program preview of the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference this December in Memphis, Tennessee is also included with the announcement of the key note speaker, former NASA Astronaut and Columbia University Professor Dr. Michael Massimino – the first person to Tweet from space!

    “We’re thrilled with this issue of the
    Whole Grain,” said Michael Klein, vice president of marketing, communications, & domestic promotion and the editor of the paper.  “As always, a special thanks to our advertisers: Buhler, Wellmark International, Douget’s Rice Milling Company, and Horizon Ag.  Their support is crucial to us continuing to grow this newspaper and being able to provide the excellent reporting that we do.”

    If you do not receive the
    Whole Grain in your mailbox, or you’d like additional copies to distribute to friends, neighbors, and colleagues, or you would like to advertise in future issues, contact Colleen Klemczewski at cklem@usarice.com.

  • 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.

    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.

  • USA Rice Announces Conservation Achievement Award

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 14, 2015
    Leo LeGrande and honoree Kevin Norton
    NEW ORLEANS, LA — USA Rice presented the sixth annual USA Rice Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award to Kevin Norton, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state conservationist for Louisiana.  Leo LaGrande, chairman of the USA Rice Farmers’ Conservation Committee, presented the award to Norton during the annual Rice Awards luncheon held here last Friday, during the 2015 USA Rice Outlook Conference.  

    “Since being named Louisiana’s state conservationist in 2007, Kevin has worked as a champion for the rice industry and encouraged the adoption of innovative practices to further conservation benefits beyond NRCS standards,” LeGrande said.  “Just this year he submitted a number of new Conservation Stewardship Program practices that are designed specifically for use on ricelands.”

    LeGrande added, “Among fellow state conservationists, Kevin has been recognized as a strong leader.  Recently he spent 29 months detailed to the Senate Agriculture Committee to develop the Conservation Title of the 2014 Farm Bill and personally helped design the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.”

    When accepting the award, Norton said, “As a public servant, there is no greater or more humbling honor than to be recognized by your customers.  And this is really special to me because rice is special to me.”
  • Rice Scholarship Winner Promotes Health, Budget Benefits of Rice

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 14, 2015
    From left: USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward; grand prize winner Haven McElhanon; and Leslie Rodgers
    with Dow AgroSciences
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – At last Friday’s USA Rice Outlook Conference Awards Luncheon, Haven McElhanon of Forrest City, Arkansas, took home the 2015 USA Rice Federation National Rice Month Scholarship, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.  As the grand prize winner, she received a $4,000 scholarship and a trip here to attend the conference.

    McElhanon’s initiative, “Rice – a Health Happy Hand,” touted the health benefits of budget-friendly rice, which she promoted through classroom visits and community events, spreading rice information, and recipes.  She also enlisted support from a local judge who signed a proclamation to make September Arkansas Rice Month.

    McElhanon is the daughter of Dana Crisp and Steve McElhanon, and is part of a fifth-generation farming family in Arkansas.  While rice production has always been part of her community, she learned more about its importance while conducting rice promotions and serving as Miss St. Francis County Rice 2015.

    “In spreading the news about rice and its nutritional value, I became interested in pursuing a degree in nutrition upon attending college in the fall of 2016,” says McElhanon, who is a senior at Palestine/Wheatley High School.  “I hope my efforts have made a difference in my community where so many suffer from poverty and poor health as a result of diet.”

    To apply for the scholarship, students were required to develop a promotional program in their local community that highlights U.S.-grown rice as part of National Rice Month in September.  The second- and third-place winners are Mary Katherine Swindoll of Hernando, Mississippi, and Clay Parker, of Carlisle, Arkansas, respectively.

    “During the past seven years of Dow AgroSciences sponsoring the National Rice Month Scholarship, we have been impressed with the students’ passion and effort they put into promoting rice in their communities,” says Leslie Rodgers, a crop protection representative with Dow AgroSciences, who presented the award.  “These applicants are our next generation of producers, teachers, and agriculture advocates.”
  • 2015 Rice Award Winners Recognized at Annual Awards Luncheon

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 11, 2015
    From left: Vicky Boyd, Rice Farming; Tim Walker, Horizon Ag; honoree Jerry Hoskyn; 
    and USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – Winners of the 2015 Rice Awards were announced today at a luncheon in their honor.  Awards are presented in the categories of farmer, industry and lifetime achievement.  This year’s winners are Jerry Hoskyn, farmer of the year, Keith Fontenot, rice industry award winner and Jimmy Hoppe, rice lifetime achievement award winner.

    Jerry Hoskyn grew up on a farm in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and left home for college with no plan to return to the farming life.  However, his roots in the Arkansas Grand Prairie ran deep and it wasn’t long before he was back on the farm and 48 years later, he’s still at it.  Hoskyn is known as an innovative producer who embraces technology and, while considered a mentor by many, he is always willing to learn something new.  Hoskyn serves on several USA Rice committees and says, “I serve on a lot of committees but I think I learn a lot more from them then I ever give.  There are just so many sharp people in the rice industry.”

    Keith Fontenot is first and foremost an educator.  After receiving a degree from Louisiana State University in vo-ag education, Fontenot began teaching others, from 4-H’ers to professional producers.  His work as a county extension agent using educational materials, programs, and methods provided by the LSU AgCenter, has helped farmers in his area increase yields and improve best management practices.  Fontenot says the learning goes both ways:  “I’ve been blessed to work in an area of southwest Louisiana that has some of the best, most innovative rice farmers in the world.  They expect and deserve excellence.  You couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with and for.”

    Jimmy Hoppe is a well deserving recipient of the Rice Lifetime Achievement award having been a rice farmer since he was in the eighth grade!  He says he has spent his whole life on his farm in southwest Louisiana, doing what he loves with a strong commitment to sustainability and conservation practices to enhance the environmental benefits of rice production.  Accepting the award, Hoppe said, “It’s overwhelming and humbling to have been chosen, and it’s been a pleasure to serve in this industry.”

    The Rice Awards are sponsored by Rice Farming magazine, Horizon Ag, and USA Rice.
  • USA Rice Outlook Conference – Day Two

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 11, 2015
    From left: Trade Minister Arrietas, Bill Reed,
    and Chuck Wilson
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today’s general session program opened with a conversation between Louisiana rice farmer John Owen and his neighbor, Representative Ralph Abraham.  Because the Congressman was detained by business in Washington, DC, the conversation took place via phone and film.  Abraham represents Louisiana’s 5th district, the largest row crop district in the nation, and is a fierce supporter of the agriculture community.  He spoke about the opportunity he has as a member of the House Ag Committee to push for legislation and programs that really work for farmers, and being a farmer himself, Abraham knows what it takes to grow a crop.

    Next up was a live and lively presentation by Dr. David Kohl on the current economic outlook as it relates to agriculture.  Dr. Kohl provided straight talk on the global trends that impact American farmers, including trade, oil markets, and weather.  He emphasized the importance of China and how their activities influence what happens on a macro level around the world.  At the same time, Kohl reminded everyone, events on the mico level are just as crucial and he encouraged farmers to remain fiscally conservative in the good times in order to capitalize during the bad times.

    Finally, Reubén Ramos Arrieta, Minister Counselor in the economic and trade office of the embassy of the Republic of Cuba, offered his perspective on U.S.-Cuba relations and the potential for renewed U.S. rice exports to Cuba.  He talked about how encouraged people in his country are by the dramatic changes the U.S. has made recently to normalize relations with Cuba, but also reminded the audience of the challenges that remain before real trade can begin.
  • Record-Setting USA Rice Outlook Conference Kicks Off

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 10, 2015
    Robbie Trahan does the honors
    for the Louisiana delegation
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – The 2015 USA Rice Outlook Conference has attracted record crowds and got underway here last night with an opening reception in the exhibit hall and a very fundraising dinner for the USA Rice Political Action Committee.
    Today the first of three General Sessions opened with a welcome from USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley and inspirational remarks from Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain.  
    Then attendees got a strong dose of politics with married keynote speakers Mary Matalin and James Carville in a discussion of politics, life, and predictions, moderated by Brian King of Ritter Grain Services.  
    “I’ve never seen anything like this in American politics,” said Carville when asked about the large field of candidates vying for the presidency.
    “This is unprecedented - you could field two baseball teams,” Matalin said. “we have produced a field that is uncharted territory.”
    King sought insight and advice and pressed the pair on what would happen in the 2016 election.  Carville predicted a Hillary Clinton win. Matalin responded, “let’s just say I disagree with him and pray that he is, as he often is, wrong.”
    Political consultant Michael Dunn took the stage next to talk about the importance of political engagement and paint a picture of how decisions get made in Washington.  He had specific advice for the rice industry about how to make an impact in policy discussions, and it ultimately all comes down to participating.
    Following a lunch in the exhibit hall, attendees had many options including rice outlook and research reports from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, a farm management learning session presented by Dick Wittman of Wittman Consulting Services, a look at global supply and demand from USDA’s Andrew Aaronson, and an in depth weather and El Nino discussion with Joel Widenor of the Commodity Weather Group.
  • New Orleans Restaurants Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 10, 2015
    Rice pride on display
    Rice Pride Sticker
    NEW ORLEANS, LA -- Each year, USA Rice teams up with restaurants in the hosting city of the USA Rice Outlook Conference to promote local eating establishments that serve U.S.-grown rice.  This year, members can again look forward to an expansive selection of highly-rated restaurants that will satisfy every palate and price point.

    The seventeen restaurants participating in this year’s promotion will display “We Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice” emblems provided by USA Rice.  Many restaurants expressed a desire to keep the emblem up year-round to support U.S. rice farmers.

    “It’s incredible to see so many restaurants committed to using locally-sourced ingredients like rice,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice’s director of domestic promotion.  “We hope that those attending the USA Rice Outlook Conference will visit these restaurants that are actively supporting the U.S. rice industry.”    

    Recognized globally for its distinctive cuisine, New Orleans is the hub of the Creole and Cajun food scene providing patrons with specialty dishes that move rice from a side item to the center of the plate. Members can look forward to New Orleans classics like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, and many other dishes that feature rice as a central ingredient.