2016 Rice Award Winners Recognized at USA Rice Outlook Conference

Dec 13, 2016
2016 Rice Award Winners (from left):
Steve Linscombe, Gary Sebree, and Richard Fontenot. Click here to view video interview with Gary Sebree.
2016 Rice-Award-Winners
MEMPHIS, TN – The USA Rice Outlook Conference is where the U.S. rice industry meets, to share information, network, and honor the accomplishments of industry leaders at the annual Rice Awards Luncheon. This year's awards ceremony celebrated three individuals for their contributions and achievements:   Richard Fontenot, farmer of the year, Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice industry award winner and Gary Sebree, rice lifetime achievement award.

Richard Fontenot is a fifth generation rice farmer whose family legacy in Evangeline Parish is one of innovation, conservation, and industry advocacy.  He and his brother, Neal, operate R & N Farms growing rice, soybeans, and crawfish, and also run a precision leveling business.  Their family tradition of being at the forefront of modernization began in the early 1900s and continues today with Fontenot’s work with rice researchers, equipment dealers, and youth programs such as 4-H and FFA.  Off the farm, Fontenot is an active advocate for the rice industry, serving on the Louisiana Rice Research Board as well as the board of directors of USA Rice and USA Rice Farmers.  He says, “Without the support and counsel of my family, I would not have been able to participate in rice industry and agriculture advocacy activities.”

Over the last thirty years, Louisiana’s rice yield has nearly doubled - from 3,800 pounds in 1983 to 7,500 pounds in 2015 – thanks in large part to Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter Rice Research Station, and his rice breeding program.  Linscombe and his staff have developed 32 new rice varieties that have dramatically improved production practices and environmental advantages for farmers in Louisiana and around the world.  According to Fred Zaunbrecher, a farmer and member of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, the widespread use of varieties originating from the AgCenter is evidence of the facility’s impact on the rice industry.

Gary Sebree was recognized for his successful farming operation in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and also for his industry leadership role at both the state and national level over the past 50 years.  As a visionary in conservation practices, innovative technology, and trade relationships, Sebree has been instrumental in crafting policy that will affect generations to come.  He explained, “I’ve been fortunate because farming has never been a job, and I don’t plan to give it up but want to hang around long enough to hand over the operation to my grandson who also wants to farm.”

“Rice Farming magazine is proud to sponsor the annual Rice Awards along with Horizon Ag and USA Rice,” says Editor Vicky Boyd. “Since 1992, rice industry leaders have been recognized for their dedication, determination and innovation in the U.S. rice industry.  As they have done in the past, award recipients continue to provide leadership and inspiration to all segments of the U.S. rice industry. It’s our pleasure to honor these outstanding people for their contributions and achievements.”