SAN ANTONIO, TX -- The 2017 USA Rice Outlook Conference got underway here last night with an opening reception in the exhibit hall and a fundraising dinner for the USA Rice Political Action Committee. And today's General Session opened with a host state welcome from Texas rice farmer L.G. Raun and State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, followed by keynote speaker Mark McKinnon.
One of the most successful, influential, and respected political and media advisors in the modern era, McKinnon talked about lessons he learned crafting successful political messages and how those storytelling essentials can be used to tell the agriculture story to audiences unfamiliar with the territory.
"In the short time I've been with you all today, I can see the rice industry has an amazing story to tell," said McKinnon. "The hardest part of messaging is finding one and you all have a great one. If you tell it with authenticity, people will listen because who doesn't love farmers?"
The early morning schedule included presentations on the aptly named Innovation Stage, centrally located in the Exhibit Hall, featuring the latest the industry has to offer in technology and equipment. Today's General Session was followed by the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon, and the afternoon schedule is filled with new breakout sessions on topics that range from trade to conservation to grain bin safety, and more.
"We're so excited about the slate of educational programming offered this year," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "There is something here for everyone, with more to come tomorrow."