USA Rice on the Road in Mississippi and Arkansas

Jan 27, 2017
Hijinks at the USA Rice booth
Fun-@-the-USA-Rice-Booth-at-2017 AR-State-Mtg
CLEVELAND, MS and STUTTGART, AR – As the 2017 planting season approaches, rice state meetings are in full swing and USA Rice is on the road listening to growers and sharing planned activities and success stories.

More than 40 growers filled the Bolivar County – Mississippi State University Extension Office to hear updates from Mississippi State Extension/Research Rice Specialist Bobby Golden who leads a talented team of researchers looking into off-target herbicide drift, planting techniques and progression trends, and other important issues.

“We are fortunate to have a great team at Mississippi State of home-grown, world-class researchers,” said Mississippi Research and Promotion Board Chairman and Mississippi grower Marvin Cochran.  “We’ve been losing talent to agribusiness, so I’m encouraged that we now have an excellent crop of scientists working to improve rice in the Delta.”

USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward shared her organization’s outlook for life under a Trump Administration.

“It seems to be a bit of a mixed bag for us at the moment,” she said.  “We’re encouraged by the President’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture, and the focus on enforcement of existing trade deals is positive for us.  Of course anything that disrupts trade with our top export market, Mexico, gives us pause.”

Ben Mosely, vice president of government affairs for USA Rice, discussed the new make up in Congress and what it’s going to mean as a new Farm Bill comes into focus and how Congress will deal with President Trump’s regulatory agenda.

“There are 10 Democrat Senators on the Senate Ag Committee and all eyes are going to be on the seven who are up for reelection in 2018, five of whom represent states Donald Trump won,” he said.

USA Rice Vice President of Marketing, Communications, & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein discussed the group’s newly invigorated food service program that has recently launched print and electronic advertising and monthly newsletters targeting decision makers in the sector.

He also shared results of farm and mill tours for development chefs that has expanded the network of chefs promoting U.S. rice, and showed the promotional video PF Chang’s created to highlight U.S.-grown rice.

“We have a great partner in PF Chang’s who are using their own resources to help promote U.S. rice, and now the Landry’s Restaurant Group and El Pollo Loco are joining their ranks,” he said.

Today in Stuttgart, more than 300 gathered for the Arkansas Rice Annual Meeting and trade show where the current political climate, the carbon credit market, and conservation planning dominated discussions.

Ward provided her analysis of the landscape in Washington, including the expected rise of influence of rural America.

“Donald Trump won 76 percent of the districts with a Cracker Barrel in them and only 22 percent of the districts with a Whole Foods,” she told the crowd.  “It’s rural America that elected him, and while he is President of the entire country, there is a saying about dancing with the one that brought you.”

Local growers Mark Isbell, Mike Sullivan, and Jim Whitaker shared their experiences with the carbon credit market and encouraged others to join their efforts to expand and communicate the sustainability message of U.S. rice.

Amanda Mathis with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service rounded out the programming with a practical discussion of how growers can take advantage of her agency's assistance programs.

"Today was an important gathering for our members," said Arkansas Rice Council Chairman and grower Jeff Rutledge.  "There's a lot happening in Washington and on research fronts that affect us all and before you know it, we're all going to disappear onto our farms, so it was good to hear and interact with the speakers and exhibitors."

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