Jan 18, 2019
EL CAMPO, TX -- More than 200 rice farmers and industry stakeholders gathered in a standing room only auditorium at the El Campo Civic Center this past Wednesday for the 2019 Western Rice Belt Production Conference, presented by Wharton County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
The event featured speakers on a variety of topics important to the rice industry in Texas, as well as a trade show with exhibitors from equipment dealerships, chemical suppliers, seed sales, and more. USA Rice and The Rice Foundation had a booth promoting the Rice Leadership Development Program and the recently completed 2018 U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report.
Throughout the morning, attendees heard from presenters on how to improve rice production practices through new and developing research. Topics and speakers included understanding herbicide groups and their uses (Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, Texas A&M), ways to tackle herbicide resistant barnyardgrass (Dr. Tom Barber, University of Arkansas), a rice disease management update (Dr. Shane Zhou), and an insect management update (Dr. Mo Way, Texas A&M). Texas Department of Agriculture’s Greg Baker updated attendees on state pesticide laws, regulations, and certifications.
During lunch, the local Rice Poster Contest winners were announced, awarding elementary school students for their winning entrees. Tommy Turner, chairman of the Texas Rice Council, provided a brief update on activities conducted by the Council in 2018. The scheduled Council producer board elections were postponed for 2019. Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group chairman L.G. Raun recognized Ducks Unlimited for recently receiving the 2019 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Award for Partnership.
After lunch, Dr. Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M, provided attendees with a 2018 Farm Bill update, covering commodity and conservation policies pertinent to Texas rice farmers. USA Rice’s Jamison Cruce and Steve Linscombe gave attendees updates on the rice market and international trade outlook, and promoted the Rice Leadership Development Program and 2018 U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report, respectively. To close out the conference, Dr. Philip Shackelford of Texas A&M reported on the results of a recent rice sustainability forum, covering both environmental and economic sustainability initiatives.