Rice and Ducks Conservation Fundraising Campaign Underway Print E-mail
comm-scrooge mcduck-140820ARLINGTON, VA -- (August 20, 2014) -- A massive fundraising effort has begun for the unique and groundbreaking multi-state conservation proposal from the USA Rice Federation and Ducks Unlimited.  The USA Rice Daily reported earlier this month that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) selected the proposal to advance to the next stage, along with 230 other proposals ("USA Rice Federation - Ducks Unlimited Conservation Proposal Clears Major Hurdle" USA Rice Daily, August 4, 2014).  Now, according to the organizations, the hard part begins.

"The successful conservation programs that will ultimately be chosen and funded by the NRCS are going to have to demonstrate a great deal of industry support and buy in," said Jeff Durand, a Louisiana rice farmer and co-chairman of the USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership Committee.  "We are asking for $20 million for our program from the agency, and we committed to raise $8 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry, allied companies, and other interests."

Durand says support for the USA Rice-DU program will pay excellent dividends over both the long and short term.

"We know what's good for rice is good for ducks and vice versa," he said.  "But what's good for both of them, is also good for the environment as a whole.  The critical habitat U.S. rice farms provide for waterfowl and other species is valued at more than $3.5 billion to replace.  And today, rice farmers are bearing about $70 million in wetland maintenance and upkeep costs that a lot of people take for granted."

USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited are sending out fundraising letters and asking their member organizations to do the same - to customers, end users, and allied groups - to support the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposal.

Created by the Farm Bill, the RCPPs will fund conservation partners who can increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.

"There are many worthy conservation projects out there, but given the geographic scope of ours, and the enormous return on investment we're offering, I think our proposal stands out," said Al Montna, a California rice farmer, DU Board member, and the other co-chair of the Stewardship Partnership Committee.  "Our proposal's three priority-resource concerns in order are: water quantity, water quality, and wildlife habitat.  If those are important to you, you should get on board with our proposal."

People interested in learning more can contact DU's Scott Manley at (601) 956-1936 or USA Rice's Reece Langley at (703) 236-1471, or download a copy of the fundraising letter and pledge form.

In addition to the above national rice project, there is also a California rice-specific RCPP and a southwest Louisiana rice-specific RCPP being developed.  For more information on these contact Paul Buttner with the California Rice Commission at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (916-206-5340) or Alicia Wiseman with Louisiana Ducks Unlimited at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (337-408-3288).

Photo caption:  An early investor
Arkansas Rice Producer Dow Brantley Elected Chairman of the USA Rice Federation Print E-mail
bw and usarf chairmen-140715DALLAS, TX -- (July 15, 2014) -- The Board of Directors of the USA Rice Federation elected a new chairman during annual meetings here yesterday.

Arkansas rice producer Dow Brantley will assume the two-year post on August 1, taking over for Mark Denman, a Texas rice miller who has been chairman of the group since 2012.

"Dow is going to make a great chairman," Denman said.  "He is an important producer in the number one rice producing state in the country, and has already begun to make his mark on the industry as the chairman of the Arkansas Rice Federation and the Arkansas Rice Farmers and through his service on several USA Rice committees and task groups."

"Mark Denman guided our industry through some trying times -- the farm bill, trade and marketing challenges, and other critical issues," said Brantley.  "He was also at the helm during our recent strategic planning that resulted in a solid viability plan for the industry and the organization.  He served all segments of the industry with distinction, and I'm looking forward to keeping us moving in that right direction."

Brantley operates a large family farm in England, Arkansas and reports about 35 percent of his acreage is in rice.  In addition to serving on several USA and Arkansas Rice committees, Brantley is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program, and is the chairman of the Lonoke County Farm Bureau.

"This is an exciting time for the American rice industry with many challenges and opportunities ahead," said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice.  "Chairman Denman was an outstanding leader who turns over a more focused and stronger Federation than he inherited.  We're pleased to continue working with Chairman-elect Brantley as we continue to enhance our organization and take on existing and new challenges on behalf of the entire U.S. industry."

Photo caption: CEO Betsy Ward flanked by outgoing Chairman Mark Denman (l.) and new Chairman Dow Brantley.
School Nutrition Magazine Announces Healthy Rice Bowls Contest Print E-mail
The September issue of School Nutrition Magazine (circulation 50,000) features the USA Rice Federation's annual Healthy Rice Bowls Contest for kindergarten through 12th grade (K-2) school menu planners.  The contest began this month to coincide with National Rice Month and the beginning of the new school year.

In a piece with the headline of "Bowl Them Over," the article says, “rice sure is nice, especially for winners of the USA Rice Federation's Healthy Rice Bowls Contest for K-12 school nutrition professionals!”  It also gives details on how to submit entries for creative rice bowls served as a school lunch.

The contest is an opportunity for USA Rice to promote rice usage in schools and feature winning ideas on the organization's Web site.

This year's entry deadline is Nov. 6.  One winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card, an Aroma commercial rice cooker for their school and a 10-cup cooker for home.  Runners-up also will receive rice cookers.

USA Rice works closely with the School Nutrition Association and K-12 menu planners to encourage increased rice offerings in schools. For more contest information and a look at previous winners, visit MenuRice.com.

USA Rice Urges 100 Percent Inspection of Rice Shipments from Pakistan Print E-mail
ip-khapra_beetle-140115ARLINGTON, VA -- (August 13, 2014) -- The full leadership of the USA Rice Federation has sent a letter to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) asking the agency to conduct mandatory inspections on all shipments of rice from Pakistan, following the discovery last week of Khapra beetle larvae in a rice shipment from the country.

"Your discovery of Khapra beetle in a rice shipment from Pakistan to the port of Baltimore on August 6, 2014 has raised concerns across the U.S. rice industry due to the threat it poses not only to our $34 billion industry but also to U.S. agriculture in general," reads the letter. "This beetle is one of the world's most destructive pests of grain products and seeds. Without your diligence, the Khapra beetle could have entered the United States and caused major damage to U.S. agricultural industries."

The Khapra beetle is a native of India, but has spread to other countries in the area, Europe, and North Africa. Because of its ranking as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world, many countries ban the import of agricultural products from countries with known infestations.

"Our top rice export market, Mexico, bans imports from countries with known Khapra infestations," said Dow Brantley, USA Rice Federation Chairman and one of the letter's signers. "It would be devastating if Khapra beetle could establish itself here, which is why we were so pleased APHIS caught it and turned those shipments around last week. We hope they'll keep the inspections up."

Other signers of the letter were John Owen, Chairman of the USA Rice Producers' Group; Chris Crutchfield, Chairman of the USA Rice Millers' Association; Dick Ottis, Chairman of the USA Rice Merchants' Association; and Betsy Ward, President and CEO of the USA Rice Federation.

"APHIS should be commended for their vigilance in stopping these contaminated shipments," said Ward. "We think the value of agriculture to our economy, and the seriousness of the threat make a strong case for mandatory 100 percent inspections of rice coming from any country with known Khapra infestations, particularly India and Pakistan."

Twenty-six countries have been designated by USDA as having endemic Khapra beetle infestations including India, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh.

Photo caption: Insecta non grata
Marvin "Butch" Baden Honored with RMA Distinguished Service Award Print E-mail
ms-butch baden honored with distinguished service award-140618LAKE TAHOE, NV -- (June 18, 2014) -- Today, the USA Rice Millers' Association (RMA) named Marvin "Butch" Baden of Producers Rice Mill, Stuttgart, Arkansas, recipient of the RMA Distinguished Service Award, the association's highest honor.   

Baden began his service on the RMA Board in 1982 and served as Chairman in 1992.  He has chaired the Convention Coordinating Committee since 1996.  

"Butch has given 56 years to the U.S. rice industry during which time he has sold, or been responsible for selling, more than 1.3 billion bushels of rough rice here and around the world," said Keith Glover, president and CEO of Producers Rice Mill who made the award announcement. "I can think of no more appropriate award to bestow on Butch than the lifetime achievement award, and on behalf of all the people whose lives he has touched in a positive way, I extend my sincere and heartfelt appreciation and congratulations."

"The RMA Distinguished Service Award is our association's highest honor and a fitting tribute to recognize Butch's dedication and contributions to RMA, the rice milling industry, and the rice industry as a whole," said RMA Chairman Chris Crutchfield who presented the award to Baden.

Baden was caught off guard by the surprise presentation, but true to form, he recovered quickly, expressed his appreciation and told the crowd how lucky he considers himself to have spent his life working in an industry he truly loves.

The RMA Distinguished Service Award honors extraordinary lifetime contributions to the industry and is not awarded each year. The last award was given in 2011.

Baden began working in the rice industry at the age of 17 and held numerous positions, first at Riceland, and at Producers Rice Mill for the past 36 years. His wife of 52 years, Kaye, was on hand for the presentation. Baden has two sons and seven grandchildren, all of whom joined Baden in celebrating this important event.

Photo caption:  Keith Glover honors Butch Baden (r) for 56 years of service to the rice industry.

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