Rice Awards Recognize Industry Leaders

2017 Rice-Awards recipients holding plaques, standing in front of Outlook step-and-repeat
From left: Christian Richard, Chuck Wilson,  and Dr. Xueyan Sha
Dec 12, 2017
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Every year at the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon Rice Farming bestows three awards: Rice Farmer of the Year, the Rice Industry Award, and the Rice Lifetime Achievement Award.  These annual recognitions, co-sponsored by Horizon Ag and USA Rice, highlight some of the most positive achievements associated with the U.S. rice industry.
The 2017 Rice Farmer of the Year is Christian Richard, who grew up on a rice farm in Kaplan, Louisiana.  At eleven, his grandfather put him on a tractor and told him it was time to go to work and Christian’s been at it ever since.  He uses technology, sustainability, and other conservation programs and practices to bring his crop to harvest in the most efficient manner possible.  He works with closely with the Louisiana State University AgCenter and other universities to implement innovative methodology to help his farm become more sustainable and protect natural resources, and he tries to spread the message of agricultural stewardship to as many people as possible.

“Rice farming is close to my heart,” says Richard.  “Farming rice is what I have always done and it defines who I am and the heritage of my family.”

Rice Industry Award winner, Dr. Xueyan Sha, was born and raised in a small village near Shanghai, China, where rice means everything:  A means to alleviate constant hunger and provide hope for prosperity.  He started his rice breeding career at LSU’s H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in 2000, and during his tenure there released 20 long grain, medium grain, and aromatic rice varieties including Jupiter, Jazzman, Jazzman-2, and Della-2.

In 2012, Sha took over the medium grain rice breeding program at the University of Arkansas where he spearheaded the fast-track release of Titan – the first Arkansas medium grain variety in more than a decade.

“Nothing is more satisfactory than seeing your varieties help rice growers,” says Sha.  “Especially when things are going well.”

Chuck Wilson, the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, recently retired after working 40 years in the U.S. rice industry in many different capacities.  Best known for managing The Rice Foundation’s Rice Leadership Development Program, Chuck has mentored more than 180 rice farmers and industry representatives who have graduated from the program.

Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, a Leadership grad who spoke at the conference opening ceremony yesterday, said, “From Chuck, we can all learn to how to be better leaders, and even more importantly, how to be better individuals.”

To learn more about the three recipients, check out the special section included in the December issue of Rice Farming magazine.