USA Rice’s Ward Attends Annual California Field Day Activities and Visits Mills

Sep 01, 2017
USA Rice's Betsy Ward and
CA rice farmer Josh Sheppard
 BW-&-Josh-Shepard-CA-Field-Day-170901
BIGGS, CALIFORNIA – The Annual California Rice Field Day was held here this week under sunny, hot skies.  But all thoughts were on rice brethren in Texas and Louisiana, and the Rice Field Day program was led by California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation Chair Bert Manuel who began the event with a moment of silence for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  

The Rice Experiment Station here boasts about 50,000 different lines of rice planted on 350 acres.  Director Kent McKenzie noted, "It takes a decade or more to come up with a variety when you make a new cross pollination and then we increase the seed, decide on which ones we want to release and release those to the growers.”  The experimentation station opened in 1912 and holds Field Day on the last Wednesday of August every year.

The field day gave growers and others in the rice industry an opportunity to observe and discuss research in progress at the station with field tours emphasizing progress in rice variety improvement, disease, and insect and weed control.  

USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward attended the field day and thanked the California rice industry for its continued support.  “I look forward to this event every year as it gives me an opportunity to meet with rice industry members and discuss the state of rice markets and the upcoming harvest,” she said.

Ward also toured the facilities of USA Rice Millers’ Association (RMA) Chair Alex Balafoutis and USA Rice and RMA Board member Chris Crutchfield while in California.  

PGP International specializes in rice flours and blends and is an extrusion specialist that offers an assortment of extruded crisp products made using rice, among other ingredients.

“I had a fascinating tour of the PGP facilities and saw some technology and processes that are quite unique in the rice industry.  It is easy to see why Alex and his company are so successful both in the United States and abroad as they offer a wide array of value-added rice products for many different applications,” said Ward.

“The American Commodity Company’s mill in Williams was really impressive as well, with state of the art equipment and great enthusiasm among the mill staff for the high quality rice products produced there,” she added.

ACC is not only a major supporter of USA Rice, they are also help fund the Rice Leadership Program that trains the next generation of rice industry leaders.

“To see the investment that is made in new equipment and technology to make superior rice and rice products is an inspiration and highlights the need for us to continue to seek new and improved market access for our members,” said Ward.

Ward also met with the Executive Committee of the California Rice Commission (CRC) to discuss USA Rice activities that support the goals of CRC and the California rice industry.

“As one of the key rice states in terms of both financial and volunteer member participation in USA Rice, we are very grateful to California for their support,” said Ward.