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Industry News: January 2024

RiceTec Announces Retirement of Dr. José Ré, Appoints New Head of Global R&D

Dr. José Ré

Since its inception in 1988, RiceTec has been at the forefront of sustainable rice agriculture, continually setting new standards in the industry. Dr. José Ré, a key figure on the company’s leadership team, is retiring from his role as global head of research and development by the end of March 2024.

Under his leadership, the RiceTec R&D program has flourished globally and positioned the company as a leader in sustainable rice agriculture with a market-leading portfolio of commercial hybrids launched in India, the U.S., Mercosur, and various export markets.

His vision and relentless pursuit of excellence have driven the company to new heights as well as shaped the wider rice seed industry.

Ré’s influence extends well beyond RiceTec. He has also served on the Boards of the International Seed Federation and the American Seed Trade Association, which are the voice of the global and U.S. seed industry with a mission to create the best environment for the global movement of healthy, quality seed, and promote plant breeding and innovation in seeds.

His tenure on various committees, including more than eight years on the Illegal Seed Practices Coordination Group and nearly 11 years on the Intellectual Property Coordination Group, has been instrumental in lending a voice to the more than 7,000 members in 70 countries.

In 2015, Jose was appointed by the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Board, where he served representing the seed industry sector.

Succeeding Dr. Ré will be Dr. Amitabh Mohanty as new head of global research and development. An experienced R&D leader with demonstrated history of innovation and product development, Dr. Mohanty joins in the vision of sustainable rice agriculture that creates  value for farmers, consumers, and the planet.

Dr. Amitabh Mohanty

As a member of the executive leadership team, Dr. Mohanty will play a pivotal role in driving forward product development, aligning research initiatives with market demands, and upholding RiceTec’s commitment to sustainability.

His expertise will be invaluable in translating RiceTec’s strategy into an actionable R&D agenda, a high-performing product pipeline, overseeing transformation of the global breeding organization, guiding trait discovery and development, and advancing gene editing efforts.

Before joining RiceTec, Dr. Mohanty served at Corteva Agriscience as leader of global biotech operations, trait discovery operations leader, and program leader, ag productivity and insect control traits.

His contributions there were key to the success of their trait pipeline. Dr. Mohanty brings rich experience and expertise in trait discovery, technology, and product development in rice. His domain knowledge is well-recognized by external peers. He was invited to serve as a member of the genome engineering task force of the department of biotechnology, govt. of India.

Dr. Mohanty holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the Department of Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Delhi South Campus, India. He did his post-doctoral studies at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

He is a contributor to scientific literature with numerous journal articles and patents to his name, as well as a rich history of participation in scientific conferences and symposiums.

Dr. Mohanty’s expertise promises to continue our legacy of innovation in sustainable rice agriculture. We look forward to this new era of growth and discovery, firmly committed to our mission for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and the planet.

2024/26 Leadership Development Program Class Announced

From left: Everett Willey, Allen Anderson, Carissa Lee, Cole Reiners, Andy Brown and Jason Satterfield

Members of the 2024/26 Rice Leadership Development Program class were announced recently during the annual Rice Awards Luncheon at the 2023 USA Rice Outlook Conference. The class is comprised of seven rice industry professionals selected by a committee of agribusiness leaders.

“This is an excellent group that displays exceptional leadership potential,” said Rice Foundation Director Dr. Steve Linscombe. “They also represent a mix of southern and west coast individuals which always makes for good class dynamics.”

The new rice producer class members are Allen Anderson, East Bernard, Texas; Carissa Lee, Maxwell, California; John McLain, Abbeville, Louisiana; Cole Reiners, Mowata, Louisiana; Everett Willey, Nicolaus, California.

The new industry-related class members are Andy Brown, Walker, Louisiana; Jason Satterfield, Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication training. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.

John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and USA Rice manages the program.

— Deborah Willenborg, USA Rice

Arkansas Ag Economist Helps Producers Develop Risk-Management Strategies

Andrew Anderson

Weather. Markets. Global events. Farmers still have to produce the world’s food amid a world of uncontrollable factors.

“Any farmer will tell you that farming is a lot like gambling,” said Andrew Anderson, assistant professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “To be able to have policies that are created understanding that risky environment is really important.”

Anderson investigates the role of risk in decisions throughout the agricultural supply chain. He said he hopes his research will improve policy-making decisions and help people develop strategies to manage risky environments.

Risk can come from various sources for agricultural producers, Anderson said. Two especially significant factors are uncertainty in the final price and production quantity — price risk and production risk. Farmers make production decisions long before they know the price, and uncontrollable variables such as weather make it difficult to predict production outcomes.

Some economics research assumes risk is not a factor, which might not provide an entirely realistic scope, Anderson said. The economists who work specifically on risk help offer a more complete picture of the economic environment.

Anderson joined the University of Arkansas System in August. He conducts research for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture. He also teaches classes through the Dale Bumpers College of Food, Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Anderson is part of the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence in the agricultural economics and agribusiness department.

“Agriculture is such a unique industry,” Anderson said. “As long as we have people on the planet to feed, improving the production and distribution of that food can have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Policy, Risk, and Futures Market

Part of Anderson’s research focus relates to the intersection of government policy and producer risk. One of his ongoing projects aims to determine how drought insurance impacts the demand for pastureland. Drought insurance, officially known as Rainfall Index Pasture, Rangeland and Forage insurance, helps protect a producer’s operation from the risk of forage loss due to lack of precipitation. Anderson said that government policy interacts with the price and quantity of pastureland in interesting ways.

Government policy may have unintended consequences, Anderson said. For example, policy makers might design a program to benefit livestock producers by reducing risk. However, if much of the value of the program is capitalized into land values, the large share of producers who rent land won’t benefit as rental rates increase and the benefits are passed on to landlords.

Anderson’s projects also explore volatility in the cattle futures market, which helps with price discovery and risk management, Anderson said. Through the futures market, people buy and sell contracts settled at a future date, Anderson explained. There are concerns that cattle futures markets experience excessive volatility, due to a variety of factors. Anderson’s research aims to address the source of this volatility and find the impact that excess volatility on price discovery and risk management for cattle producers can have.

Cattle producers use the futures market to hedge against large price movements. A volatile futures market makes it difficult to accomplish this goal. Volatility could also spill over into local cash markets, increasing uncertainty and risk even for those who don’t use futures contracts as a hedge.

In addition to his cattle market projects, Anderson said he plans to expand his research to other agricultural commodities in Arkansas, such as rice and poultry. Anderson hopes that his research will support stakeholders in Arkansas and the land-grant mission.

Anderson received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Brigham Young University — Idaho in 2017. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees also in agricultural economics from Purdue University in 2019 and Kansas State University in 2023, respectively.

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