EPA Staff Explores California Rice Country

Group of people standing on a levee in a flooded California rice field, listening to farmer straddling a levee gateSACRAMENTO, CA – Last week USA Rice and the California Rice Commission (CRC) hosted five staff from across the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs to experience rice growing and milling in California firsthand.

With the need for new plant protection products ever growing, these tours bring EPA personnel, new and experienced, out to the farm to inform them of key pesticide issues facing rice growers across the country.

“USA Rice arranged a similar tour of Louisiana rice country last year,” said USA Rice Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee Chairman Ray Vester.  “It served as a bridge building exercise between the regulatory agency and the rice industry, and all involved deemed it an unqualified success.  Continuing the tour this year was a no brainer.”

Stops on the tour included several rice farms to learn about how rice is grown and to see pesticide application by ground sprayer, a rice mill to learn how rice gets from farm to grocery store shelves, a flying service to discuss aerial pesticide application, the California Rice Experiment Station to learn more about key pests and diseases, and another rice farm to observe the immense wildlife that call rice fields home.  

A special interest of the EPA scientists was water modeling, so a large focus of the week was the role of water in rice production, and water monitoring done in the area for pesticide residue, as required by the State of California through the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Department of Pesticide Regulation.  

The group had plenty of opportunities to interact with all segments of the rice industry and see firsthand many things directly related to their day-to-day work.  And of course, before they left town, they got to enjoy world-class sushi made with California rice to round out a week of learning.

“We really appreciate the hospitality of all California industry members who generously took time from their schedules to share knowledge with the U.S. EPA guests,” said Roberta Firoved, CRC manager of industry affairs.  “Fostering relationships with the U.S. EPA is invaluable in seeking new chemistry and maintaining products for the benefit of the rice industry."