EDITOR’S NOTE: The California Rice Commission represents the entire California rice industry, including all 2,500 rice growers and handlers who farm and process rice produced on approximately 500,000 acres annually. The commission deals with the broad fields of development, maintenance and expansion of markets, marketing research, education, advertising and promotion, as well as the
production and processing research that is necessary to promote,
maintain and enhance the rice industry. Following are some
interesting California rice facts compiled by the commission.
• The California rice industry annually contributes more than $1.3 billion to the state’s economy, consistently ranking among the state’s top 20 crops.
• California is the nation’s second largest rice-producing state, with the 2008 harvest totaling more than four
• California rice is one of the top 10 agricultural exports in the state, with Japan being the top overseas market.
• The Sacramento Valley is the heart of California’s rice industry, much like the Napa Valley is to premium wine and wine grapes. Ninety-five percent of the state’s crop is grown within 100 miles of the state capitol.
• California ricelands are used by more than 220 species of wildlife, with an estimated $1 billion in habitat value.
• California ricelands and adjacent wetlands provide habitat for nearly half of the estimated seven million waterfowl using the Pacific Flyway. Rice fields provide more than half the nourishment required by wintering waterfowl.
• The Manomet Center for Conservation Science has recognized the value of rice fields by designating them Shorebird Habitat of International Significance. This is now the second-largest North American shorebird site within the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and is comprised of 90 percent ricelands.
• The California rice industry is a leader in water quality efforts, with comprehensive monitoring programs that are ideal examples for all of agriculture.
• California rice straw shows excellent promise for cellulosic ethanol production.
• California-grown rice is not only highly prized for its exceptional quality and taste; it’s affordable, at less than twenty-five cents per serving.
• California medium and short grain rice is prized for its soft and sticky characteristics. It’s an ingredient in many popular cuisines, including Japanese and Italian, which include sushi, paella and risotto, just to name a few.
• Every piece of sushi made in America comes from California rice. The California rice industry honors this popular cuisine through SushiMasters, a competition among chefs to determine the best at this culinary art form.
• California rice is manufactured into numerous food products, including sake, beer, cereal, baby food, rice milk and pet food.
• Americans consume about 27 pounds of rice per person per year.
• Rice is the most widely consumed grain in the world, feeding more than half of the world’s population daily.
• California’s rice industry has been tied to the state’s diversity since the beginning. Rice grown in California can trace its ancestry back to introductions from Japan and China.