For any industry to run smoothly and profitably, each facet has
to understand the roles and goals of all the other facets. And
the rice industry is no different. For example, breeders develop
varieties; farmers grow the crop; millers mill the grain and
sell it to industrial buyers, who, like Kellogg Company, produce
products that consumers want and trust.
According to John Morgan, vice president of Louisiana Rice Mill,
LLC in Crowley, Supreme Rice Mill, which was bought by Louisiana
Rice Mill in 2007, had a very long history with Kellogg, dating back
to the 1940s when Joseph Doré, Sr. started Supreme Rice Mill. Bill
Doré, who represents the third generation of the family, stayed on
board after Louisiana Rice Mill acquired Supreme Rice Mill and,
today, is the vice president of sales and manages the entire
As food cleanliness and security standards have increased, especially
after 9/11, mills are required to have certain certifications,
often costly ones, in order to sell rice to their customers. Louisiana
Rice Mill’s Crowley location is American Institute of Bakers certified,
which is a requirement to service its larger U.S. customers and gives
the Louisiana rice industry access to prestigious
companies such as Kellogg. In 2011, Kellogg
changed the requirement to Safe Quality Food
Program (SQF) certified. SQF is administered
by the Safe Quality Food Institute. Louisiana
Rice Mill in Crowley is now the first rice mill in
the South to be SQF certified.
“With this certification, we can sell more rice
to Kellogg and have become a strategic supplier
by working closely with them on variety
development, sustainability and any other issues
the company may have,” Morgan says. “Kellogg,
whose cereals traditionally are rice-based,
is a consistent buyer, pays good prices, and we
are able to do a lot of pre-contracting so farmers
will know what they are going to get for
their rice before they even plant it.
“Because they are making cereal with this
rice, they want certain, more value-added varieties,”
he adds. “It’s not that one variety is better
than another, it’s that Kellogg is looking for
consistent quality, consistent characteristics and
stability in the variety, meaning that it will be
around for a while.”
Kellogg: High Standards, Own Specs
Kellogg’s variety approval process begins
with Louisiana Rice Mill sending the company
a five-pound sample. The next step is to send a
300-pound sample, followed by a truckload so Kellogg can begin plant trials. Finally, the mill sends Kellogg a
couple of rail cars of the particular variety it is testing so it can run even
larger trials prior to granting approval.
Rice varieties that are currently on Kellogg’s “approved” list
include CL161, CL131, CL151, CL111 and CL261 – Clearfield’s
first medium grain release. Kellogg likes to buy medium grain rice
because it is used in Rice Krispies. The long-grains are used in what
Kellogg calls its complex flakes like Special K.
The company also has its own specifications to gauge if the rice that
it orders from the mill is acceptable or unacceptable when it arrives.
“Take chalk, for example,” Morgan says. “It’s not chalk as defined
by USDA, but chalk as defined by Kellogg. The farmers who sell us
rice still get the FGIS grades, but when we ship rice to Kellogg, we
ship it based on their specs, not FGIS specs. We actually put the
Kellogg grades on our rail cars.”
A Fit For Growers And Buyers
The Louisiana miller also is quick to point out that getting varieties
approved according to Kellogg’s high standards is only part of the
equation. The other part is that farmers have to be interested in growing
the varieties and realize a profit.
“If the farmers don’t make money, then they won’t be here, and we
won’t have a supply,” Morgan says. “Our interest in Clearfield varieties,
like any variety, is tied to the interest in the producer wanting
to grow it and the end user wanting to buy it.”
Christian Richard, who farms in southwest Louisiana, primarily grows Clearfield varieties and was particularly
pleased with how CL151 performed for
him last year.
“We almost hit 60 barrels per acre in 2011,
which was the third year that I have grown
151,” Richard says. “It’s been the highest
yielding rice on my farm.”
During that time, the Louisiana farmer has
adjusted some of his production practices
related to CL151, including reducing his
nitrogen units from 160 units per acre to 145.
He also used to use straight urea, but is using
more zinc now and applying 80 percent of
his fertilizer pre-flood.
“I’m also using seed treatments,” Richard
says. “I used to drain my fields to control
rice water weevil, but now the seed treatments
take care of that, and I can conserve
water, which is a precious commodity.”
Although Richard is planting 400 acres of
CL151 again this year, he is putting 625 acres
into CL111 because, he says, it has good
quality and is bringing a premium price at
Mark Pousson, who also farms in southwest
Louisiana, had several Clearfield notill
stale seedbed test plots on his farm in
2011, including CL111, CL151, CL152 and
CL162. He also planted Jazzman, Cocodrie
and CL261, which is a medium grain.
“The advantage of growing test plots is
that they allow me to see how they perform
along with the current varieties under the
same weather conditions,” Pousson says.
“They also showed me that I don’t have to
count on one variety. There are a lot of
options out there with the Clearfield technology.
To me, one of the biggest advantages
of the Clearfield system is that the fields are
real clean. We did not find any red rice, and
the other common weed species were taken care of, too.
“Last year, I pre-contracted my CL261
with Kellogg through Louisiana Rice Mill
and the Jazzman rice with Jazzmen Rice
LLC – a niche, aromatic market,” he adds.
Sustainability: A Common Goal
In addition to working with Kellogg to get
varieties approved that farmers want to grow
and Kellogg wants to buy, Louisiana Rice
Mill, along with the entire U.S. rice industry,
is addressing the issue of sustainability,
about which Kellogg is very serious. In fact,
Kellogg’s Web site says its Chief Sustainability
Officer and Board of Directors’ Social
Responsibility Committee “set guidelines for
our sourcing activities, including our agricultural
ingredients, and set measurable goals
for reducing our emissions, water and energy
use and waste.”
The U.S. rice industry also is on top of this
issue and has been for a long time as
described in a press release distributed by
LSU AgCenter in June 2011. As Dr. Steve
Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter
Rice Research Station, pointed out to Kellogg
and Walmart representatives at a field
day last summer, “This station has been working
for the past 102 years toward sustainability.
And some of the greatest progress
toward becoming more sustainable has come
in the past 20 years.”
Jennifer James, who is an Arkansas farmer
and chair of the USA Rice Sustainability
Task Force says sustainability has been an
important consideration in agriculture. She points out that farmers have contributed checkoff dollars to research
that has reduced soil erosion, water usage and fertilizer use while
providing an improved environment for waterfowl.
James goes on to say that a FieldPrint Calculator computer program
will be available for farmers to determine the environmental impacts
of their individual operations.
Environmental Indicators Report
In 2010, the USA Rice Federation released an Environmental Indicators
Report, showing that U.S. rice production efficiency has
increased over the past 20 years, relying on fewer inputs to produce
more rice. Following is a summary of the national resource indicators
for U.S. rice production from 1987-2007:
• Land use: Twenty-one percent less land used per unit of rice
• Water use: Thirty-two percent less irrigation water used per unit
of rice production.
• Soil loss: Thirty-four percent less soil lost per unit of rice production.
• Energy use decreased by 52 percent.
• Climate impact net of soil methane (greenhouse gas emissions):
Forty-two percent per unit of rice production.
• Soil methane: (greenhouse gas emissions): Twenty-nine percent
per unit of rice production.
Also, according to the report, the U.S. rice industry is moving
toward meeting increased demand while achieving lesser environmental
impact per hundredweight of rice produced.
“If you look at rice’s track record and how efficient the crop has
become, especially over the past 20 years, the USA Rice Sustainability
Task Force has a good story to share with Kellogg and other
buyers,” Morgan says. “In working toward sustainability, it has taken
a collaborative effort on the part of the entire U.S. rice industry to
achieve a common goal – grow rice more efficiently to continue
lessening the impact of rice production on the environment.”
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or email@example.com.
Kellogg, Walmart & Louisiana Rice Farmers
Share Goals During Field Day Event
Last June, representatives of the Kellogg Company and Walmart saw
firsthand how Louisiana rice farmers are using sustainable agricultural
practices to produce a crop profitably in an environmentally
The field day at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station was a follow-
up to a planning meeting held in February 2011 for a Master
Rice Grower program in collaboration with the Louisiana Master
Farmer program, Kellogg and Louisiana Rice Mill.
Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station,
said the event allowed farmers to demonstrate how they are
good stewards of Louisiana’s natural resources.
The field day “was very well received by all participants,” Linscombe
says. “It provided an excellent opportunity for Kellogg to obtain a
much better understanding of Louisiana rice production and, perhaps
more importantly, a much greater appreciation of how good our
rice producers are at what they do.
“The field day also allowed our rice producers to develop a greater
appreciation of the justification and overall goals of Kellogg Company’s
sustainability effort,” he adds.
Kellogg U.S. Morning Foods president David Denholm said he was
amazed by what he saw and heard. “We have a real opportunity to
help consumers understand the importance of the sustainable agriculture
advancements being made here.”
Denholm said Walmart sold 50 million pounds of Kellogg’s Special
K cereal that uses rice and 20 million pounds of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies,
the rice for which is grown by Louisiana farmers.
“Kellogg is the single most important customer for rice in Louisiana,”
says Bill Doré of Louisiana Rice Mill, based in Crowley.
Consumers have become more conscious about buying products
with environmentally sound origins, said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg vice
president of environmental stewardship. “They want to know they are
doing the right thing.”
At the same time, Holdorf said, feeding the global population of nine
billion people by 2050 will require three times the present natural
resources worldwide. Kellogg is well on its way to achieving goals to
reduce its environmental impact by 20 percent in 10 years.
Sustainability is not a new concept for rice farming and research, Linscombe
told the Kellogg and Walmart representatives.
“This station has been working for the past 102 years toward sustainability,”
he says. “And some of the greatest progress toward
becoming more sustainable has come in the past 20 years.”
Water quality is a concern in rice production, and more use of
farming practices such as drill seeding has helped farmers address
that issue, Linscombe said. “Rice does an excellent job of improving
LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk showed the group a rice
field farmed by Buck Leonards and Sam Theunissen. The field was
drill-seeded, a practice that was revived with the Clearfield rice technology
developed at the Rice Research Station. Drill seeding was once
the dominant planting technique in Louisiana, but it was replaced
by water-seeding with the use of aircraft. Saichuk said drill seeding uses
less water and can be used with conservation tillage methods.
LSU AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell told the group about the
benefits of laser leveling and a new soil test for nitrogen that has the
potential to allow farmers to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed for
a crop. Harrell is conducting a trial of the new test on the Zaunbrecher
Brothers farm. He said the goal is to obtain the best yield with the least
amount of fertilizer. – Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter
Dr. Steve Linscombe addresses field day attendees.