BATON ROUGE, LA – Yesterday, Louisiana rice farmers and millers spent the day here celebrating "Louisiana Rice Day at the Capitol” to highlight the economic importance of the Louisiana rice industry to the state economy, and the environmental and cultural benefits to its citizens.
Louisiana Rice Growers Association President Michael Fruge told members of the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee that rice is grown in 31 parishes by more than 1,000 growers. Fruge said he was “proud of the resilience of our rice growers in challenging economic times, especially in relation to the hardships associated with the 2016 and 2017 flooding that caused significant damage to Louisiana's rice crop.”
Committee member, Representative John Stefanski, reminded fellow legislators, "The rice industry represents all of the small businesses in our rural community." Stefanski also took a personal privilege to recognize the industry leadership in attendance when the entire Louisiana House of Representatives convened, including Fruge, Donald Berken, Kevin Berken, Jeff Durand, Richard Fontenot, Mark Frey, Steve Linscombe, Jackie Loewer, Jeffery Sylvester, and Robbie Trahan.
The rice industry delegation also was recognized at both the Senate Health and Welfare, and the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committees, along with the Louisiana Rural Caucus.
Trahan, the CEO of Falcon Rice Mill in Crowley, spoke about the importance of the Louisiana rice milling industry as well as the impact that rice exports have on the economic health of Louisiana’s rural communities. Representative Jeffery Hall, who represents an urban district in Alexandria, said, "You can live in the city but you can't live without the rural communities that feed us."
Representative Terry Brown added, "If they don't have rice and gravy in heaven, then I don't want to go."
The day ended with an acknowledgement from Senator Bret Allain, a fellow farmer from Jeanerette, who invited Senators from rice producing districts to recognize the Louisiana rice industry leaders amongst all of their peers. Richard Fontenot said, "This was a great way to collectively thank our legislators not only for their support in the past but also our work together in the future."
Each legislator received a one-pound bag of Louisiana rice donated by the Louisiana Rice Growers Association along with educational material about the Louisiana rice industry.