Industry News: April 2023

‘Super Seniors’ graduate from Rice Leadership Development Program

Class of 2021-23 (from left): Elliott Maschmann, Derek Sohnrey, Christine Wiley, Mallory Scott, Garrett Williams, and Adam Shea
USA Rice

As reported on in USA Rice’s The Daily, the 2021-23 Rice Leadership Development Class recently completed the two-year program with their final session held in conjunction with the USA Rice Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26–March 1.

“This group had a very different trajectory due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the program. “They were selected during the Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock in December 2019, and their program, which should have begun in 2020, ended up being extended by a year.”

Upon arriving in Washington, the class traveled to the USA Rice staff office in Arlington, Virginia, to review the week ahead and discuss the many issues USA Rice is working on for the industry.

Class spokesperson, Christine Wylie, from Colusa, California, talked about the impact the class had on her outlook for the future of U.S. agriculture. She encouraged everyone to have at least one conversation a day about U.S. ag with someone not involved in the industry as an effective way to spread the message about the vital role the industry plays in our country’s food security.

Class members then joined their individual home state delegations making visits on Capitol Hill and speaking with legislators about the importance of the upcoming Farm Bill and significant concerns unique to rice that the industry hopes to see included.

In addition to Wylie, class members are Elliot Maschmann from Oran, Missouri; Mallory Scott from Wynne, Arkansas; Adam Shea from Little Rock, Arkansas; Derek Sohnrey from Durham, California; and Garrett Williams from Stuttgart, Arkansas.

During their four sessions, they visited rice growing regions in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas where they met rice producers and industry leaders. They also attended several sessions on improving leadership skills.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is open to U.S. rice producers or individuals who work in the rice industry between the ages of 25-45. The application period will open in July and details will be announced in the USA Rice Daily.

2023 Rice is Nice Youth Cooking Contest rules 

Arkansas produces just under 50% of the nation’s rice each year, and this contest is designed to introduce budding chefs to rice as a crop and as a versatile diet staple. Students age 9-18, or in grades 4-12 as of Jan. 1, 2023, and living in Arkansas may enter. Home-schooled students are welcome to enter. Contestants, certified by their county Farm Bureau or county Extension agent, will compete in one of two categories: Main Dish or Party Ideas.

County winners may be selected in a manner deemed most suitable for each county. County winner entries to the state contest are due by May 26. Students must be willing to participate in the state cook-off in Little Rock, Arkansas, if their recipe is selected for the finals. Finalists will be notified by June 2. 

The top three winners in each category will prepare and serve their recipe at the state contest June 27 in Little Rock. Prizes will be awarded in each category as follows: First place, $150; second place, $125; third place $100. All recipes and entries become the property of Arkansas Farm Bureau.

For more details, visit

Neal Stoesser named Rice Farmer of the Year

Neal Stoesser, Raywood, Texas, has been named the 2023 Rice Farmer of the Year at the 26th Annual National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference, Southern Precision Ag Conference, Southern Soybean & Corn Conference, and the Delta States Irrigation Conference.

Stoesser is a fourth-generation farmer, growing rice, soybeans, milo, and hay and raising cattle along the Texas Gulf Coast. He grew up watching his father, the late Ray Stoesser, advocate for the rice industry and now proudly follows in his footsteps. Stoesser’s love of farming began early. At age eight, he started actively helping his father’s farm by driving the cart and has not stopped since. He farmed his first solo crop at the age of 18 and now farms a minimum of 6,000 acres of rice per year. He has continuously adapted and innovated to meet the current demands of farming.

Stoesser serves as the Vice-Chair of the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) and a board member of the Texas Rice Council. He also serves on the Texas Rice Research Foundation and the Liberty County Farm Bureau board and consults on different local agricultural advisory committees. He has participated in USRPA’s trade missions and reverse trade missions to increase rice exports in the U.S. He has traveled internationally to help promote high-quality U.S.-grown rice and has hosted international buyers at his farm and facilities to continue to grow rice export markets.

Stoesser is joined on his farming operation by his wife, Meredith, and two sons, Nate, 13, and Wes, 9.

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