Rice Farming

 - From the Editor -

Kudos to our
rice organizations

By Carroll Smith

They get up every morning and go into the office, board a plane to travel around the world or perhaps host a delegation from a potential market – all done on behalf of U.S. rice.

Who are these people? They are the officers and staff of two of our rice organizations – USA Rice Federation and U.S. Rice Producers Association. They have many duties other than the ones mentioned above, often carried out behind the scenes quietly and efficiently. Over the past year, they have accomplished much for our industry. Following are some highlights.

On Nov. 26, 2006, shortly after the discovery of the adventitious presence of LL601 in the commercial rice supply, the USA Rice Federation moved to “release a recommended plan of action to remove genetically engineered rice from the U.S. supply to re-establish a marketable product,” says Al Montna, USA Rice Federation chairman. The plan was so successful that “the rice industry supported an extension of the seed plan into 2008.”

Just recently, the USA Rice Federation, which is very active in the political arena, and 32 other agriculture organizations sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, urging them to “convene a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate [Farm Bill] legislation as quickly as possible in order to complete a conference report…by no later than late January or early February.”

Another rice organization – the U.S. Rice Producers Association (USRPA), which is based in Houston, Texas – has developed “programs that were key to maintaining the market for U.S. rice while contributing to the increasing consumption in Central America,” says Dwight Roberts, president and CEO of USRPA.

“Also, partnerships between USRPA and a number of governmental and social organizations in Mexico are helping Mexican consumers become more aware of the benefits and versatility of rice in their daily diets.”

USRPA also was active in trying to develop the Chinese market. Greg Yielding, who serves as special foreign projects coordinator for USRPA, says (page 8), “Using a grant awarded to the USRPA through the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agriculture Service’s Emerging Markets Program, substantial market research was performed in Guangdong province to assess the market potential for packaged long-grain milled rice in South China.”

He notes that the study yielded “nothing less than astounding results.”

On behalf of everyone who makes a living from and supports the rice industry, I say hat’s off to these organizations and keep up the good work.