OAK RIDGE, LA -- Yesterday morning, Northeast Louisiana rice growers met here at Vic Jordan's farm, Trio Plantation, to hear from Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers on this season's test plots results.
The group of farmers participated in the morning program in the field with presentations by Dr. Rogers Leonard, Dr. Steve Linscombe, Dr. Dustin Harrell, Dr. Don Groth, Dr. Eric Webster, and Sebe Brown. Topics from the Crowley-based researchers were varied, ranging from pest management, new varieties and effects on stand and yield, new herbicide treatments, and more.
Following the field demonstrations, participants traveled to the Rayville Civic Center for additional presentations from Dr. Trey Price, Sebe Brown, and Peter Bachmann with USA Rice. Bachmann's presentation focused on the state of the rice economy and the work USA Rice is doing to improve the U.S. rice markets. "Planted rice acres in Louisiana saw an increase of about 24 percent to 440,000 long grain rice acres this year and with excess stocks on-hand from last year, this is a recipe for depressed prices to stick around. Fortunately, our work in putting the farm safety net together for rice in the 2014 Farm Bill has made us 'the best house in a bad neighborhood' when compared to other commodities," he said.
Bachmann added, "USA Rice is working hard to focus on permanently opening new export markets like Cuba, securing reliable tenders for Iraq, and finalizing phytosanitary protocols to gain access in China. Additionally, we're securing conservation financial assistance for producers here on the ground in Louisiana and across the Mid-South, the Gulf, and California through the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited."
Scott Franklin, a Louisiana rice farmer and owner of Holly Ridge Rice and Grain, and vice president of the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association, said he's "feeling optimistic about the state of the rice industry, despite lower than desirable prices right now."
Franklin finished by saying, "The Price Loss Coverage program in place is serving the role it was created for, keeping rice farmers in business during the tough years. We'd obviously prefer for the market to be healthy enough that rice wouldn't hit its trigger price but we all know 'what goes up, must come down' and vice versa. Better times are ahead!"