Congressional Rice Caucus Launches with Sustainability Update

Woman stands at wooden podium
Rice farmer Jennifer James talks sustainability
Sep 27, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the Congressional Rice Caucus convened for its inaugural meeting of the 116th Congress in the United States House of Representatives.  The Rice Caucus is co-chaired by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR) and comprised of 24 like-minded legislators from both sides of the aisle all who agree that the mission of the Caucus is to provide a platform to discuss the role of government in addressing current and future challenges facing the U.S. rice industry.

More than 50 attendees were present at the meeting, including Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Bruce Westerman (R-AR), to hear industry updates from Riceland Foods in Crawford’s district and Mars Food in Thompson’s district, and an overview of the U.S. rice industry’s many sustainability initiatives, including the Rice Stewardship Partnership between USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited, which works with over 40 organizations and corporate partners to bring more than $80 million to rice farmers for the implementation of conservation practices through 2023.

Jennifer James, a rice farmer from Newport, Arkansas, and chair of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee, was on hand to talk about the importance of sustainability on her fourth-generation farm, which she hopes to be a fifth-generation operation when her son joins the family business.  “Not only are we working to conserve the natural resources that provide for our livelihood, but we’re helping our communities by providing jobs and injecting money into the rural economy,” said James.  “Because of these outstanding achievements in sustainability from U.S. rice, we in the industry want to showcase these efforts.”

"American-grown rice is known throughout the world for its high quality, and is a major U.S. export, even to other rice-producing nations," said Thompson.  "Rice is also an important part of Mississippi’s economy.”

“The American rice industry contributes more than $34 billion to the U.S. economy annually and supports more than 125,000 jobs.  The First District Arkansas district is also the leading rice producing district in the country and produces roughly half of the U.S. rice crop,” said Crawford.  “Rice is an economic powerhouse and the backbone of many rural communities – we must strive to maintain sustainability in both the field and market.  This coalition of Representatives will ensure the lasting viability and economic sustainability of rice growing in this country.”