Risk Management Agency Does Their Research on Rice

Several people inspect polypipe irrigation in green rice field
RMA staff takes note of various irrigation practices
Aug 22, 2019
JONESBORO & STUTTGART, AR -- This week, staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) toured Arkansas to talk with rice farmers and see irrigation methods like alternate wetting and drying (AWD) and furrow irrigated (or row) rice firsthand.  RMA is actively working to provide crop insurance coverage for these two irrigation methods to give rice farmers more assurance as they adapt their irrigation systems.

The seven RMA staff members are based out of Kansas City, Missouri; Topeka, Kansas; and Jackson, Mississippi; and were hosted by Jarrod Hardke, University of Arkansas rice extension specialist, and USA Rice staff during their Arkansas rice tour.  

The group saw research plots and field scale research trials on AWD and furrow irrigated rice being conducted by the University of Arkansas in both the Grand Prairie and northeast Arkansas regions.  They also visited with growers using a variety of irrigation methods from conventional flood using contour or straight levees, to multiple inlet rice irrigation (MIRI), to row rice fields.

“USA Rice has long worked to secure crop insurance policies for both furrow and AWD,” said Jamison Cruce, USA Rice government affairs manager.  “We were successful in getting specific language in the 2018 Farm Bill instructing the RMA to consider coverage for these new, innovative irrigation practices, and are hopeful that coverage will be available for crop year 2020.”

USA Rice and the rice extension agronomists in states where these practices are common also submitted input throughout the RMA’s research and development process. 

“We appreciate the time and effort spent on rice production insurance policies by the RMA staff, particularly their diligence toward the development of crop insurance policies that will provide coverage for innovative and conservation-minded irrigation practices,” said Daniel Berglund, Texas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Farmers Crop Insurance Committee.  “By taking the time to visit and witness rice production and rice research firsthand, we hope these RMA staffers now have a good sense of why we need crop insurance policies that continue to work for our industry as new production practices are developed and proven successful.  I think we’re headed in the right direction.”