FAYETTEVILLE, AR – USA Rice leverages partnerships to help spread the U.S.-grown rice message around the world, and some of the most valuable were on display as USA Rice staff presented both a review of recent activities and a look ahead to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) meeting here this week.
The USA Rice – Ducks Unlimited (DU) Rice Stewardship Partnership is just one example of how finding common goals with key partners can directly benefit the rice industry. USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward shared a video produced by Nestlé Purina about rice conservation efforts that showcased Mississippi farmer Mike Wagner, Arkansas farmer Mike Sullivan, and Missouri farmer Rance Daniels. In addition, Ward highlighted how USA Rice and DU have worked together to deliver $17 million in Regional Conservation Program Partnership (RCPP) funds directly to Arkansas rice farmers to expand voluntary, private lands conservation practices.
USA Rice Vice President of Domestic Promotion Michael Klein explained successful efforts partnering with internet foodies; TV celebrity chef Sara Moulton whose cooking show recently featured Arkansas rice farmer Eric Vaught and his family; students through the National Rice Month video scholarship contest; and research and development chefs and food writers.
Ward reviewed the trade landscape for rice with the board, including the challenge of preserving export gains made through NAFTA and combatting unfair trade practices that undermine U.S. export success globally. She also highlighted the critical partnership that USA Rice has with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) which forms the backbone of the industry’s export promotion programs. “We are very fortunate to have champions for rice at USDA like Secretary Sonny Perdue and the new Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney who see their jobs as partnering with us to increase exports of rice,” said Ward.
Ward also highlighted the partnership between USA Rice, USDA, and USAID on developing nutritious and affordable fortified rice technology for U.S.-grown rice that is now accepted into global feeding programs.
The ARRPB is made up of nine rice representatives who are nominated by industry organizations and appointed to two-year terms by the governor. The board is responsible for allocating Arkansas rice promotion and research check-off funds annually, and for the past 30 plus years, the ARRPB has awarded promotion funds to the USA Rice Council in recognition of the exemplary work performed by the Council on behalf of Arkansas rice farmers. The board voted this week to continue the relationship.
"We are deeply grateful that this board entrusts their hard-earned financial resources to us," Ward said. "We certainly value our partnership with the Arkansas rice industry and will build on our successes both here and abroad in the coming year to expand consumption of U.S. grown rice."