LA Rice Research Board adds funds to AgCenter-endowed super chair

• By Bruce Schultz •

LSU AgCenterThe Louisiana Rice Research Board has provided an additional $500,000 earmarked for an endowed super chair in the Louisiana State University AgCenter, bringing the total to $3 million to help fund research.

The board approved the allocation at its Nov. 5 meeting.

Interest generated by the account may only be used to support research at the rice station, and the board’s allocation will not be touched. Mike Salassi, AgCenter associate vice president and program leader for plant and animal sciences, said the fund should generate about $100,000 a year to help fund projects at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station.

“Expendable funds generated from the endowed chair are not designated for any one specific project but are intended to provide overall support for the range of research being conducted at the rice research station,” Salassi said.

He said the Rice Research Board has taken a major step.

“The LSU AgCenter greatly appreciates this significant investment by the research board,” Salassi said. “This tremendous investment by the Rice Research Board is evidence of the outstanding research being conducted at the rice station and the vital role which the output from that research, in terms of new rice varieties and management practices, plays in the long-term economic viability of the rice industry in Louisiana.”

The Colombian Free Trade Agreement generated the funds. All money from that source is earmarked for rice research in Louisiana.

Salassi said this is the largest endowed chair in the LSU AgCenter. Unlike other super chairs within the LSU System, this is not supplemented by the Board of Regents.

The board previously allocated $2.5 million for the chair, including $500,000 in June at the board meeting following the rice station virtual field day.

“The board felt it was a good investment,” said board chairman Richard Fontenot. “It provides a legacy for long-term support for rice research.”

The board was able to set aside the money because the Colombian Free Trade Agreement generated more funds than expected this year, Fontenot said.

“Those opportunities probably will diminish over time,” he said. “We might have additional funds, and we might not.”

The chair will provide funding stability for researchers facing the possibility of difficult state budgetary restraints.

Also at the meeting, the board approved $1.8 million for research projects funded by checkoff funds paid by farmers after a daylong review of the proposals.

Bruce Schultz is assistant communications specialist at the LSU AgCenter. He may be reached at BSchultz@agcenter.lsu.edu