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I am currently touring across the southeastern US rice production area as a member of the 23rd USA Rice Leadership Development Program class. This is the first of four sessions we will complete over the next two years. I’m enjoying the time with my fellow classmates who hail from across the US rice production regions.

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USA Rice Leadership 2012 Class (from left to right) Timothy Gertson from Texas, Rance Daniels from Missouri, Brian Barrett from California, Clint Roth from Arkansas, Brice Lauppe from California, myself and Noble Guedon from Mississippi and Louisiana.

We all met in Houston on Sunday (April 1) and our first day of tours began on April 2. The first morning was spent learning about the structure of the US Rice Federation and international rice trade. The USA Rice Federation contains four units that represent producers, millers, suppliers and consumers of rice:

  1. USA Rice Council – promotion of US rice
  2. USA Rice Producers Group – the farmer’s advocate
  3. USA Rice Millers Association – representing rice millers
  4. USA Rice Merchants Association – rough and seed rice merchandiser

The Rice Leadership Development program is administered by The Rice Foundation, an organization dedicated to rice industry research and education.

About 85% of US rice acreage is represented by the USA Rice Federation, while the other 15% is represented by the US Rice Producers Association. The Vision of the USA Rice Federation is to be the driving force of a profitable and unified US rice industry.
After we learned about the structure and purpose of the Federation, Bill Farmer spoke about US rice exports to Canada, Asia and Mexico. Mexico is a growing export market for US rice. Cooking demonstrations and TV shows are used to promote rice consumption in Mexico. After Mr. Farmer’s comments, we learned about the rice brokerage business from Michael Creed, of Creed Rice. You can visit riceonline.com to learn more about rice trading and the Creed Rice Report.
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 In this photo: Brice Lauppe and Noble Guedon discussing rice trading with Michael Creed.
In the afternoon, we toured the Anheuser-Busch plant in Houston, TX. One of the Brewer’s led our tour, which focused primarily on the brewing process. Anheuser-Busch is the largest domestic consumer of US grown rice. Rice is a key ingredient in many Budweiser products.
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In this picture – Tim Gerston and Chuck Wilson (USA Rice Federation) discussing grain deliveries with a brewer.
One of the most interesting things about the tour was the sights and smells. If you’ve ever brewed beer then you’ll be familiar with a lot of terms like wort, hops, and sparge – all terms that apply to specific phases of beer production. The mechanical processes used to produce beer on a commercial scale are remarkable. One thing I did not know is that the Lager is held in “Chips” tanks for a period of time before bottling. These tanks contain beech chips and are a traditional final step in beer brewing used by Anheuser (see photo below).
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On our second day in Texas, we struck out bright and early to visit the headquarters of Riviana Foods in Houston. The Riviana brand originated in Louisiana and the name is derived from a combination of “river” and “Louisiana”. Riviana has developed into a $1.2 billion corporation that is currently owned by Ebro Foods, a Spanish company. They distribute and market a variety of rice products as indicated in the photo below.
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Riviana and private label make up 50% of the US rice market. Riviana sells about 25 pounds of rice per second. While Mahatma is their no. 1 brand of rice, they are seeing great growth in the aromatic rice sector. During the presentation by their marketing director, Paul Galvani, we spent a lot of time discussing the increasing demand for ready-to-serve rice products.
During our trip across Texas, we also visited the US Rice Producers Association, Hlavinka equipment, the Gerston Farm in Libbey, Texas, and Rice Belt Warehouse. The conversation in Texas focused on water issues. Due to water shortages, about 70,000 rice acres will not be planted in Texas this year. The TX acreage reduction will impact farmers, but also millers, seed merchandisers, equipment dealers and other supporting industries.
Linda Raun met us at the Hvalinka Equipment Company. Mrs. Raun is a Texas rice farmer, graduate of the Leadership Progam, and current Chair of the USA Rice Producers Group. She traveled with us to the Gertson farm and spent time discussing the history of rice production in Texas.
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In this picture: Chuck Wilson, Linda Raun and Mr. Gerston (Texas rice farmer).
The Gertson’s have an impressive amount of diversification on their farm which includes a rice and cattle rotation, machine shop, precision farming equipment, and a flying service.
On our second day in Texas, we visited Doguet’s rice mill and RiceTec before we crossed the Sabine into Louisiana. I’ll pause for now and tell you more about our visit to RiceTec in my next post. If you want to follow us real time – follow the hashtag #usarice23 in twitter. You can also follow my tweets @NatHummel.

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I received this press release from Barrett Courville today. I would like to express a personal thank you to Louisiana rice farmers for supporting the LSU AgCenter rice entomology research and extension programs through annual grants funded by the Louisiana rice research board. This support is critical to research advances and extending information to growers through demonstration programs, meetings and information delivery over the computer. Without your support we truly could not conduct programs to support the Louisiana rice industry.

Beginning of press release:

Louisiana rice farmers overwhelmingly agreed to continue paying a nickel for every 100 pounds of rice for research and 3 cents per hundred pounds for promotion for the next five years.

The vote was held Jan. 17, and the final tally was made official Monday (Jan. 23) when the results were announced.

The totals showed 357 producers voting for the research check-off and 65 voting against, or 85 percent in favor of the measure and 15 percent against.

The promotion referendum was approved 321 to 107, or 75 percent for and 25 percent opposed.

Jackie Loewer, a rice farmer from Branch, La., and chairman of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, said the vote shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers approve of check-off funding.

Volunteer farmers serve on the promotion and research boards, and they decide how the money is to be spent.

“As farmers, everyone on both boards knows how difficult farming has become, and we will continue to carefully weigh how each dollar is spent,” Loewer said.

The bulk of the funds for research is earmarked for work at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.

“I can assure farmers that they are getting their money’s worth,” said Steve Linscombe, Rice Research Station director. “A continuation of these check-off funds means that research can continue to develop new varieties and to improve rice farming practices.”

The funds for promoting rice are crucial, said Kevin Berken, of Lake Arthur, La., who is chairman of the promotion board.

“If we can’t sell a crop, then it doesn’t matter how successful farmers are at growing rice,” Berken said. “Approval of these funds means we can carry on with the very successful domestic and international promotion activities that these funds support.”

“Bottom line is, without research we couldn’t grow it, and without promotion, we can’t sell it,” Loewer said.

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Writer: Bruce Schultz at 337-788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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I received this meeting notice from County Agent Barrett Courville today. I hope you can come out to the meeting.  I was recently selected to participate in the USA Rice Leadership Development Program. I’ll be attending the dinner in Crowley after I give a sugarcane presentation in Breaux Bridge.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JANUARY 11, 2012

Contacts: Randy Jemison, (337) 738-7009, rjemison@usarice.com

Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd, (703) 236-1458, sfitzgerald-redd@usarice.com

Louisiana Rice Industry Annual Meeting Set for Jan. 25

CROWLEY, LA — The Louisiana Rice Council (LARC) and Louisiana Rice Growers Association (LARGA) will hold their joint annual membership meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the International Rice Festival Building.

The featured speaker will be State Senator Jonathan Perry, “The Cajun Ambassador,™” who will deliver his special brand of Cajun humor to attendees.

LARC President Clarence Berken and LARGA President Christian Richard will provide updates on their organization’s activities. USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward will report on the Federation’s activities and promotional achievements and USA Rice VP Government Affairs Reece Langley will review the outlook for the next farm bill.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain will discuss environmental issues facing Louisiana agriculture and provide an update on efforts to address saltwater intrusion in the Mermentau and Calcasieu River basins.

“This meeting provides an annual report to rice farmers on programs funded by the Louisiana rice promotion checkoff as well as timely information on other important issues,” said Richard, a rice farmer from Vermilion Parish. “I encourage all rice industry stakeholders to attend.”

The meeting will be held at the International Rice Festival Building, 717 West Mill Street, Crowley, LA. The event will begin with a coffee and cookies reception at 5 p.m., followed by the business session, industry reports, dinner and the featured speaker. The program should conclude at 7:45 p.m.

Media are invited to attend. For more details please contact the USA Rice Federation.

USA Rice Federation is the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry with a mission to promote and protect the interests of producers, millers, merchants and allied businesses.

Randy Jemison

USA Rice Federation

Director, Louisiana Field Services

27460 Greenwood Dr.

Kinder, LA 70648

Ph: 337-738-7009

Fax: 337-738-5884

Cell: 33-515-7250

rjemison@usarice.com

www.usarice.com

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Wow – 2012, yes, it’s right around the corner. I’ll bet you are asking the same question as me – where did 2011 go???

The rice winter meeting dates are now being announced. In this post I list all the dates I have received so far and over the next week I’ll send you more details on the specific programs. I will be speaking at all of these meetings – the topic will vary depending on the parish and the problems we observed last season. Please feel free to email me or your local county agent for more information on the meetings.

Meeting season will kick off with the Southwest Louisiana Rice and Soybean Forum in Welsh, LA on Jan 3, 2012. The Evangeline Parish rice and soybean meeting will be held the morning of Jan 4, 2012 in Ville Platte, LA. The next meeting will be the Acadia Parish Rice and Soybean school at the LSU AgCenter Acadia Parish office in Crowley. The week will wrap up with the Vermilion Rice School in Kaplan, LA on Jan 6, 2012. The Avoyelles Parish Rice meeting is scheduled for Jan 11, 2012 in Bunkie, LA. The final meeting I have on my calendar is the Northeast Louisiana Rice Forum in Rayville, LA on Jan. 26, 2012. On the evening prior to this meeting, the Louisiana rice growers association will hold their annual meeting in Crowley on Jan. 25, 2012. We will have the pleasure of receiving updates from USA Rice representatives.

For more information on the meetings I listed, please contact the following county agents:

Southwest Rice and Acadia Parish – Barrett Courville: bcourville@agcenter.lsu.edu

Evangeline Parish – Keith Fontenot: kfontenot@agcenter.lsu.edu

Vermilion Parish – Stuart Gauthier: sgauthier@agcenter.lsu.edu

Avoyelles Parish – Rob Ferguson: referguson@agcenter.lsu.edu

Northeast Louisiana – Keith Collins: kcollins@agcenter.lsu.edu

I hope to see you at one (or more) of the meetings this winter.

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On Wednesday I’ll be speaking at the LSU AgCenter Rice Forum in Rayville, LA.  I hope to see you at the meeting.

Northeast Louisiana Rice Forum

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.       

                                Registration/coffee/donuts

9:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. 

                               Rice Varieties/Breeding program update

                               Dr. Steven Linscombe, Southwest Regional Director/ Rice Breeder, LSU AgCenter, Crowley,   LA

9:50 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.

                                Rice Fertility Research/Recommendations

                                Dr. Dustin Harrell, Agronomist, Rice Research Station, Crowley, LA

10:10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.          

                                Rice Insects/Insecticide update

                                Dr. Natalie Hummel, Extension Rice Entomologist, Baton Rouge, LA

10:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.          

                                Verification and Production Issues

                                 Dr. Johnny Saichuk, Extension Rice Specialist, Crowley, LA

10:50 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.           Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.          

                                USA Rice Federation Activities Update

                                Betsy Ward, President/CEO USA Rice Federation

11:40 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

                                Farm Bill and Regulatory Update

                                Reece Langley, Vice President, Government Affairs, USA Rice Federation

12:00 noon             Lunch

SPONSORED BY: LSU AgCenter, Northeast Louisiana Rice Grower’s Association, USA Rice Federation, Louisiana Land Bank.

For more information please contact County Agent Keith Collins.

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I received the notice below from some of the LSU AgCenter rice County Agents.  I plan on attending and hope to see many of you at the dinner.  Last year I found the speakers to be very engaging and informative.

 

On Tuesday, January 25th, the LA Rice Growers Association and the LA Rice Council will hold their joint annual meeting in Crowley at 5:00 pm.  USA Rice senior staff will be in town for the meeting, including Betsy Ward, President and CEO; Reece Langley, VP-Government Affairs; Patricia Alderson, VP-Meetings & Member Services; and Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd, Senior Director-Communication.

 

Information on the meeting follows:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

International Rice Festival Building

717 West Mill St. – Crowley, Louisiana

5:00 p.m. – Join us for cookies & coffee

5:45 p.m. – Program & Dinner

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: JACK SCOVILLE, FUTURES MARKET ANALYST WITH THE PRICE FUTURES GROUP

Program: USA Rice Federation Activities and Results

Reports on your rice promotion checkoff at work and on policy, legislative and regulatory issues important to you

Betsy Ward – USA Rice President & CEO

Reece Langley – USA Rice VP, Government Affairs

Door Prizes to date: Farmers Rice Mill Remington 877 Nitro Magnum 12gauge shotgun in camouflage Farmers Rice Mill Rich-N-Tone Duck Call Louisiana Rice Council A trip for two to the 2011 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Austin, TX USA Rice Federation 1 Aroma Rice Cooker And More!

For more information, contact Randy Jemison @ 337-738-7009, rjemison@usarice.com

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I had the pleasure of attending the annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Convention in New Orleans, La the weekend before July 4th.  During the rice commodity session, a number of speakers provided some very interesting comments.  To begin we heard from Watts & Associates, a consulting firm that that USA rice federation hired to explore new crop insurance plan for rice.  Mr. Alex Offerdahl (aofferdahl@wattsandassociates.com) presented a summary of the current crop insurance situation , with a preview of some ideas they have for proposing a new structure.  If you want to learn more about this, I recommend you contact Randy Jamison (USA Rice Federation). Mr. Offerdahl did a great job presenting on a highly technical subject.

Next Tara Smith – director of Congressional Relations for American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in Washington, D.C. gave us an update on activities on the Hill.  Her comments primarily focused on “growing our future – the 2012 farm bill”.  Yes, they are already debating the next version of the farm bill. 

The House Agricultural Committee, chaired by Congressman Peterson, has already conducted 10 field meetings and 3 D.C. hearings on the 2012 farm bill.  Additional hearings may be conducted in the future.  They plan to have a first draft of the 2012 farm bill  for mark-ups by May to June 2011.  In the Senate Agricultural Committee – chaired by Senator Blanche Lincoln, the first hearings on the farm bill were held on June 30, 2010.  You may have read about these hearings in the news.  Secretary Vilsack, AFBF President Bob Stallman, and others were scheduled to testify to the committee.  Four more hearings are planned for this year. 

Tara described many constraints on the 2012 farm bill.  The budget for the farm bill is currently facing a triple threat:

  1. Standard Reinsurance Agreements – total of $6 billion
  2. Child nutrition, which could be increased to $10 billion
  3. Budget reconciliation from the 2011 to 2012 budgets could be required of all committees.  This would demand that each committee cut a portion of their budget to balance the budget and reduce the deficit.

There are also a growing number of interests to appease – nutrition and specialty crops are now in the mix for farm bill funds. According to Tara, despite the heavy tilt towards nutrition spending, there is little chance of farm interests laying claim to any of that money in the current political environment.  The goal of AFBF is to ensure that no additional farm or conservation program dollars are lost. 

The Farm Bureau has 5 principles as the 2012 farm bill is written:

  1. The options AFBFputs forward or supports will be fiscally responsible
  2. The basic funding structure of the 2008 farm bill should not be altered
    • 79% nutrition ( this has increased from 66% in previous bill)
    • 1% export
    • 6% conservation
    • 7% crop insurance
    • 7% farm programs
  3. The proposals AFBF puts forward will aim to benefit all ag sectors
  4. World trade rulings will be considered
  5. Consideration will be given to the stable business environment critical to success in Agriculture (slow change is better)

Tara then went on to discuss how farmers have received the 2008 farm bill.  She said it is a little like “Goldilocks and the three bears”.  Is this farm bill too much, too little or just right?  It depends on where you live and what you grow. 

If you’d like to learn more, you can contact Tara at 202.406.3675 or taras@fb.org

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