USA Rice Farmers

The Rice Farmers’ Advocate

The USA Rice Farmers (formally USA Rice Producers' Group) is composed entirely of rice farmers from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.  This representative body ensures a forum for policy development on issues that affect rice farmers, and a voice for rice farmers to advance and implement activities to address those issues.

USA Rice Farmers (formally U.S. Rice Producers' Group and later USA Rice Producers' Group) is one of three charter members of the USA Rice Federation.
USA Rice_R_rgb_Farmers


All U.S. rice farmers are considered members of the USA Rice Farmers through participation by their state organizations.  For more information please contact Jeanette Davis at (703) 236-1447, or

Board of Directors

•  The Board of Directors consists of at least eight ​farmers from each rice state.  
      •  Each rice farmer state organization selects directors to represent that state.
•  The members are elected to serve for a one year term.  
•  Voting is state by state; one vote per state.
•  Meetings are held in conjunction with USA Rice Federation annual meetings​.

Meet the Chairman

Joe Mencer checking rice in field

Joe Mencer
Lake Village, AR

Joe Mencer has been farming rice, cotton, soybeans, and corn in in Chicot County, Arkansas, since 1979.  Mencer also is a managing partner in Dewey Grain Drier that operates a prototype drying system for rice and corn in southeast Arkansas near Yellow Bend Port.  He has served on the Rice Council in Arkansas since 1989, the USA Rice Council since 1993, the USA Rice Farmers Board, and the USA Rice Federation Board. 

Recent News

USA Rice Outlines Commodity Title Priorities Before House Ag Subcommittee

Apr 04, 2017
It's all in the title
GA-Rice Outlines Commodity Title Priorities Before House Ag Subcommittee-170404

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning the House Committee on Agriculture’s General Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee held their second of a two-part hearing series looking at commodity policies ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Blake Gerard, a rice farmer from Cape Girardeau, MO and chairman of the USA Rice Farmers Board of Directors and USA Rice Government Affairs Committee was tapped to testify before the Subcommittee on behalf of the U.S. rice industry. Other witnesses participated in the hearing representing the cotton, canola, peanut, and sugar industries.

Gerard’s written and verbal testimonies focused primarily on protecting the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program along with some recommendations for accelerating the timing for growers to receive PLC assistance and increasing the reference price for California’s Temperate Japonica Rice to reflect higher than average production costs.

“Operating costs for rice exceed every other crop covered by the Commodity Title – and, according to USDA, the 2018 crop year is forecast to have some of the highest production costs on record – nearly $1,000 per acre for rice,” said Gerard. “Because of specialized infrastructure, field equipment, and soil types needed for rice, it’s difficult to economically justify a shift from year-to-year. So rice farmers are in it for the long haul – we intend to ride out the storm, but we could not do so without the safety net that the Price Loss Coverage program provides.”

Gerard was vocal about the importance of a strong Title I program for rice farmers. “It’s safe to say that one of the reasons I’m still in business, along with the majority of rice farming families, is because of the 2014 Farm Bill’s safety net, specifically PLC.  Ninety-nine percent of long grain rice farms and 94 percent of medium grain farms selected PLC – and it has in fact provided critical counter-cyclical assistance when needed most,” said Gerard.

“While overall we feel that PLC is working the way Congress intended, the reference price for Temperate Japonica needs to be increased,” he added.

USA Rice is working with the California Rice Commission to develop a more accurate accounting of the operating cost using on-farm data to provide the most current and accurate recommendation to the Subcommittee.

Gerard was also sure to mention the impeding role that Actively Engaged in Farming regulations, payment limits, and adjusted gross income (AGI) limits play in the rice farming industry.

“Along the lines of program eligibility, we are opposed to any additional limitations based on a farmer’s adjusted gross income. In fact, we firmly believe that this AGI limit should not exist at all. We shouldn’t punish growers for farming larger tracts of land, or doing what it takes to be profitable by disqualifying their operations from farm safety net programs,” he said.

“It seems wrong to maintain policy that provides full assistance to producers when they experience some losses, but only partial assistance to those that are hit the hardest.”

Gerard also highlighted the many trade challenges facing rice in his testimony and pressed for finalizing the China Phytosanitary protocol, protecting the benefits for rice in NAFTA, and combating unfair trade practices.

When asked by Subcommittee members about the factors affecting the downturn in prices Gerard was quick to tout the benefits an open market with Cuba would offer for the U.S. rice industry within the first two years alone. He finished by reminding the Subcommittee that the U.S. needs to go after global competitors that over-subsidize their producers, both violating their World Trade Organization obligations and distorting the world market prices – ultimately costing U.S. taxpayers.

In closing, Gerard said, “If it were up to us as farmers, we would prefer to prosper only by the prices our crops bring at the market. But commodity markets aren’t always kind. Right now our crops are simply not bringing enough to pay our bills without the assistance of the 2014 Farm Bill safety net. I am here to ask for this Committee’s consideration in not only maintaining our Commodity Title programs, but strengthening it.”

The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to host additional hearings and listening sessions in D.C. and throughout rural America to continue to solicit feedback from constituents ahead of reauthorizing the farm bill in 2018.