Feb 20, 2020
BUNKIE, LA, & CLEVELAND, MS – Between harvest and planting season is another season in rice country – Meeting Season. There is no shortage of meetings being scheduled during this time in an attempt to catch rice farmers before they begin working on a new crop, and this winter has been no exception.
In addition to meetings in Jennings and Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward and Vice President of Communications & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein met with growers and industry representatives in these two spots to offer updates on policies and programs and to hear important feedback.
About two dozen members of the Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association gathered in Bunkie and another 40 farmers came out in Cleveland to hear the latest on trade deals that impact rice, and about where and how their promotion dollars are being spent.
Ward thanked all who attended for being there, but also for continuing to support the efforts of USA Rice and the USA Rice Council, both of which are supported by check-off dollars from the states.
“We appreciate the faith you put in us and we are very careful stewards of your resources,” she said. “But if there’s something you think we should be doing differently, please let us know.”
Following Ward’s trade report and update on international promotion efforts, Klein shared highlights of domestic promotion efforts, including foodservice and retail programs.
“We’ve created a program to promote U.S.-grown rice that you can be very proud of – I know we are,” Klein said.
In Louisiana, attendees also heard market analysis from Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Mark Tall and Dr. Michael Deliberto, agriculture economist at Louisiana State University.
In Mississippi, meeting attendees also heard reports on local promotions from Mississippi Rice Promotion Board Chair James Allison and Bolivar County Extension Coordinator Laura Giacclagia, a research report from Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Dr. Bobby Golden, an update on row rice from MSU’s San Roach, and a report from Dr. Scott Manley of Ducks Unlimited on the Rice Stewardship Partnership. USA Rice’s Lydia Holmes was also on hand to promote the sustainability webinars and answer grower questions or concerns.
“At the end of the day, these are our customers, so listening to what they have to say is just as important as us telling them what we are doing on their behalf,” Ward said. “We’re always grateful for the opportunity and the time they give us.”