Comparing Notes – A California Farmer in Arkansas Rice Country

Group of men, most wearing jeans and plaid shirts, stand in rice field with their backs to the camera
Forgot to pack a plaid shirt
Aug 12, 2019
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- USA Rice Board of Directors Chair Charley Mathews, Jr., visited Arkansas rice country last week to meet with growers, merchants, and millers to discuss issues impacting the rice industry.  Mathews has been growing rice in California since 1991 and last had an extensive tour of Arkansas rice country as a member of the 1993 Rice Foundation Leadership class.

One of the highlights of Mathews’ trip was attending the Mississippi County Rice Irrigation Field Day hosted by Mike Sullivan and his family on their farm in Burdette.  More than 200 people attended the field day to tour Florenden Farms and hear the latest results from on-farm studies being conducted regarding nitrogen rates in row rice and greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the field day, Mathews held a meeting in Jonesboro with board members of the Arkansas Rice Federation to talk about their programs in the state and the challenging crop year farmers faced in the mid-South.

In Stuttgart the next day, Mathews met with leadership at Producers Rice Mill and Riceland Foods, had a meeting with local farmers, and capped off the trip with a visit to Dow Brantley’s farm.  Brantley, also a leadership graduate, was also the chair of USA Rice from 2014 to 2016.

“I appreciate the great hospitality from all the people I met with on this visit,” said Mathews.  “We’re all aware of the differences between California and the South when it comes to how crops are grown and how the weather impacts those crops, but we have so much in common as rice growers, and processors, and volunteer leaders at USA Rice.  That shared experience and the time spent talking and comparing notes about the challenges we face each year makes you realize how much stronger we are as an industry when we stand together.”

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