Annual Louisiana Board Meetings Go the Social Distance

Large meeting room with several people seated in chairs spaced 6-feet apart, presentation projected on screen
Spaced out for safety
Jul 08, 2020
LAKE CHARLES, LA -- Mid-summer for Louisiana rice farmers has typically been marked by attending the annual Louisiana State University (LSU) rice field day at the H. Rousse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley, Louisiana.  The Research Station also serves as the ideal venue for both the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board’s and Louisiana Rice Research Board’s members to conduct mid-year meetings to continue in their mission of advancing the rice industry for Louisiana’s rice farmers.
Due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Field Day event went virtual.  To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the state’s Rice Promotion Board and Rice Research Board met on different days in a larger venue at the Acadia Extension Office Research Station with the option for members, guests, and presenters to participate virtually.
On June 26, the Promotion Board heard reports on the success of the ongoing “Start with Rice” campaign, along with a USA Rice update on domestic and international promotions.  USA Rice staff including President & CEO Betsy Ward; Michael Klein, vice president of communications and domestic promotion; and Sarah Moran, vice president international, joined the meeting virtually since making the trip to southwest Louisiana wasn’t possible this year.  
“We always appreciate the opportunity to share results of the work we do on behalf of the country’s rice farmers,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “This year, especially, when so much of the nation’s economy has been slowed or even shutdown, America’s farmers never stopped.  USA Rice followed that lead by adapting our promotion and research activity funded, in part, by your hard-earned check-off dollars.”

The Board unanimously voted to renew its contract with the USA Rice Council.
On July 1, the Research Board met in the same manner to hear updates on the Tariff Rate Quota program with Colombia, various research committee assignments, reports from LSU Rice Research staff, and a presentation by USA Rice’s Dr. Steve Linscombe on the work being done by The Rice Foundation and the Rice Leadership Class.

The Louisiana Research Board joined the Arkansas, California, Mississippi, and Texas research boards in approving funding for research being conducted at the station, including work done by Dr. Adam Famoso and graduate student Raul Guerra to identify qualitative and quantitative factors to facilitate breeding new rice varieties for important Latin American markets.
“Things were definitely different this year,” said Promotion Board Chair John Owen who farms near Rayville.  “We all look forward to getting together at the Research Station, typically in large numbers, although the large number this year wasn’t quantity, but distance – six feet to be exact.  The one thing that didn’t change, however, was the continued support and confidence in USA Rice by Louisiana’s rice farmers.”