Feb 12, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA – The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) met yesterday via videoconference to hear reports and funding requests from USA Rice, The Rice Foundation, and representatives of the University of Arkansas.
USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward reminded the ARRPB of all the Arkansans who serve in leadership roles throughout USA Rice boards and committees, thanked them for their volunteer work, and spoke about how USA Rice kept moving forward in 2020 despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic.
“We never closed our headquarters, but we did quickly adapt to use technology to keep everyone safe while continuing to work on the rice industry’s priorities, and we didn’t miss a step,” she said.
Ward talked about the renewed emphasis on climate and how the intersection of research and policy will be critical to developing and communicating rice’s climate solutions to Congress, the Administration, rice end users, and the public.
Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international, then reported on increased funding the industry received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA-FAS) and the greater trust the agency is placing on her group to administer those funds internationally.
Moran provided snapshots of several top export markets and USA Rice activities there including Mexico, Haiti, Canada, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and others. She provided updates and analysis on the difficult situations in important potential markets such as Iraq and China, and also talked about increased opportunities for U.S. rice in food aid thanks to the success of fortified rice products.
Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of communications and domestic promotion, provided brief updates on the industry’s new consumer campaign that is wrapping up later this month and special outreach to the foodservice sector in light of the severe impact of the global pandemic.
Klein also talked about the new improved consumer website, thinkrice.com; the USA Rice podcast, The Rice Stuff; the renewed push for non-dues revenue for the organization, and the dedication of the staff who shifted seamlessly to working remotely.
Ward closed the presentation with a review of the 2020-21 budget and formally requested the ARRPB support the USA Rice Council again for 2021-22.
Rice Foundation Executive Director Dr. Steve Linscombe updated the board about on-going Foundation research projects and the Rice Leadership Program, and requested the ARRPB continue to support their efforts.
The board voted unanimously to fund both the USA Rice Council and The Rice Foundation.
“We always look forward to presenting our programs to the board and hearing their priorities,” said Ward. “We are grateful for their tremendous support as this funding is critically important for us to continue our work on behalf of the rice industry.”