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Industry News: February 2023

Water was hot topic at Texas meeting after 2022 drought

According to USA Rice’s The Daily, hundreds of rice farmers, millers and other members of the Texas rice community gathered at the El Campo Civic Center for the 2023 Western Rice Belt Production Conference.

As is almost always the case in Texas, water was the hot topic among conference attendees.

After last year’s drought prompted the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to cut off water from the Highland Lakes to much of the rice growing region west of Houston, severely impacting the main and ratoon crops, growers are understandably apprehensive about water supply as they head into this planting season. Randy Epps, director of irrigation operations at LCRA, reported to conference attendees what they can expect in 2023, and the outlook has Texas farmers worried.

“We’re facing some real challenges with the dry year we’re coming out of,” said Debbie Hoffpauir, a Texas rice farmer whose primary source of water comes from the LCRA canal system.  “It’s looking pretty bleak because there’s less than a 5% chance of receiving water for this coming crop year.”

The region’s waterfowl and migratory birds may also be at risk in the event of another dry year in Texas.

“We will probably experience the same situation we had from the 2011 to 2014 drought,” said Dennis Neuman, rice specialist with Ducks Unlimited. “Losing 30,000 acres of rice in the Eagle Lake area will force waterfowl to seek other areas of habitat.

“More birds will probably only stop for short periods before heading down to the coast. However, since that 2011 drought, a lot of irrigation wells were drilled in the Eagle Lake area, so hopefully those farmers can provide water and habitat that was not available back then.”

Answers about ad hoc payments to rice farmers

Rice farmers with questions about funding contained in the omnibus bill signed by President Biden can find answers in a fact sheet released by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes $250 million in funding for a one-time payment to rice producers to help them offset high costs faced by the industry. Drivers of those costs include weather, war and other factors, said Hunter Biram, Extension economist for the Division of Agriculture.

“We knew there would be a lot of questions, and we wanted to have information ready for Arkansas rice farmers to make sound decisions for the 2023 growing season,” Biram said.

The fact sheet is available for download at https://bit.ly/3j8DCqR.  

Biram authored FSA68 along with Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, and Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center.

“Rice producers in particular were impacted heavily by major increases in production costs in 2022, more so than other crops,” Hardke said. “Hopefully these payments ensure that rice farms are able to stay in operation moving forward and the economic outlook improves.” 

Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center said the ad hoc funding “was a huge legislative lift and a significant help to rice producers in Arkansas and beyond.”

Both Biram and Hardke urged rice growers to exercise caution where the payments are concerned.

“While this assistance will be key to growers remaining profitable, caution should also be exercised regarding expectations about how much each grower will receive and how that impacts their planning and operation for the 2023 season,” Hardke said.

Farmers should be sure to read the FAQs in the fact sheet and are urged to “not make any decisions until you get a check in the mail,” Biram said.

Case IH Farmall tractor celebrates 100 years

The iconic Farmall model was introduced in 1923 as the all-purpose tractor designed to revolutionize the agriculture industry. Over the past century, Farmall has evolved to meet farmers’ needs across the globe with each milestone, making it “The One For All.”

“In 1923, we set out to design a tractor that could replace horses, and today, our Farmall still serves as the workhorse on farms across the globe,” said Scott Harris, Case IH global brand president. “Generation after generation, Farmall has been a symbol of modern farming, and we’re excited to bring these stories to life over the course of 2023.”

During the celebration, Case IH will give away a brand-new Farmall 75C tractor to one lucky winner who shares their passion and story about how Farmall has helped shape their farm over the years or how it’s become part of the family. The winner will be announced at the National FFA Convention on Nov. 1, 2023.

The legacy of Farmall continues today with more than 30 models from which to choose and will continue to evolve.

“Even before this anniversary, the team at Case IH was always reminded of the passion for Farmall from customers and dealers. Iconic only begins to describe it,” remarked Kurt Coffey, Case IH vice president of North America. “We are proud to have 100 years of Farmall as our legacy. It’s a tractor that’s been revolutionary to farms of all sizes across the globe. Well-worn, well-loved: this is a tractor like no other.”

For more information on the yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of Farmall and the contest details of a Farmall tractor, visit Farmall100.com.

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