USA Rice COO Bob Cummings Retires

Man wearing dark business suit stands behind chair, laughing
The end is in sight
Aug 09, 2019
ARLINGTON, VA – Thursday evening, USA Rice staff celebrated Bob Cummings, who is retiring from USA Rice after 20 years.

As the lead staff for all USA Rice trade policy Bob has helped the organization maneuver through a multitude of trade disputes and been the chief negotiator of several important trade agreements that have served the U.S. rice industry well.  

Among Bob’s many stand out accomplishments was his leadership during the GMO crisis starting in 2006, his commitment to guide the industry through the cleanup of the rice crop, and to serve as an expert witness in the legal disputes that resulted from the incident.  He was instrumental in the establishment of COL-RICE during the Colombia free trade negotiations, a structure that continues to return research dollars to our industry, helped open access for U.S. rice in Taiwan and Korea, and was the industry’s proponent on several successful cases in the WTO about rice trade in Turkey, Mexico, and China.  

Bob began his career as a trade analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and included a stint as senior economist and speech writer at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.  He joined USA Rice in 1999 at a time of transition as the industry had recently united under the USA Rice umbrella.  

“Since the time he’s been with USA Rice, Bob has been instrumental in every multilateral and bilateral negotiation concerning rice,” said Michael Rue, a California rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Asia Trade Policy Subcommittee.  “His value is more than just what he does every day; it’s the history that he brings with him.”

At the 2019 July Business Meeting in Dallas last month, Bob was presented with a photographic collage of the many international cities he has traveled to over the years in service of the rice industry.

“Bob’s experience and dedication to the job will be sorely missed by all of us but we certainly wish him all the best in his much deserved retirement,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.