Close up view of rice plants.

Meet U.S. Rice Farmers

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Rice farmer, Zach Worrell, standing in front of an old tractor with his son.

Zach Worrell

  Rives, Missouri

Multi-Generational Farmer

Favorite Rice Dish is Rice Pancakes

Missouri, the “Show Me” state, has a proud agricultural tradition and no one is prouder to be a part of that heritage than Zach Worrell, a third generation farmer whose family grows rice in the state’s southeast corner. Called the Bootheel, this region has the perfect combination of suitable topography and soil, favorable climate, and plenty of irrigation water from the Mississippi River, which is the reason agriculture, including rice production, is the area’s major economic driver. 

According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 5,500 rice farms in the U.S. generating $5.6 billion – that means each rice farm adds more than $1 million dollars to the national economy! If asked to “show me the money,” Missouri rice farmers point to the fact that they contribute $330.6 million to their state’s economy and support more than two thousand jobs. 

That’s a lot of value added to America’s rural communities, doubly impressive when you consider that 97 percent of rice farms are family owned and operated. Zach says, “Most farms are managed by regular people – grandfathers and grandmothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and we’re just like any consumer. We want a clean, healthy, sustainable food supply.” Fortunately, American rice farmers take that responsibility seriously and work every day to produce a high-quality, nutritious, great tasting crop that feeds millions of people here and around the world. 

“Like most of our neighbors, my family lives, eats, and breathes farming,” says Zach. “Growing up, agriculture was the topic of every conversation and that was basically my childhood:  farming, talking about farming, going to church every Wednesday and Sunday, and talking about farming before and after services with the occasional big buck or fish story thrown in the mix to keep you motivated during a long harvest.”

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