Industry News: March 2023

Keith Shelton honored as 2022 Rice Consultant of the Year

Keith Shelton, the 2022 Rice Consultant of the Year, was honored at an awards reception at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Shelton owns and operates Shelton Consulting Service Inc. in Lonoke, Arkansas. He is pictured with Amy Beth Dowdy, 2020 Rice Consultant of the Year.

Biologicals industry: Corteva acquires Stoller and Symborg

In a recent press release, Corteva confirmed it has closed the acquisitions of Symborg, an expert in microbiological technologies based in Murcia, Spain; and Stoller, one of the largest independent companies in the biologicals industry, based in Houston, Texas.

“These acquisitions illustrate Corteva’s commitment to providing farmers with sustainable solutions that bring value and productivity to the farm,” said Chuck Magro, CEO, Corteva Agriscience. “We are pleased to officially welcome Symborg and Stoller employees to Corteva. We believe their knowledge and expertise, combined with Corteva’s innovations capabilities, will come together to form a leading biologicals business ready to accelerate and grow with the rapidly expanding biologicals market.”

Corteva first collaborated with Symborg to scale up and bring farmers Utrisha N and BlueN nutrient efficiency optimizers under a distribution agreement between the two companies. Symborg possesses a diversified portfolio, emerging biocontrol pipeline, and skilled employees with robust technical knowledge and demand generation expertise.

Stoller brings a strong track record of success with more than 50 years experience in more than 60 countries. The company’s technical expertise and exceptional commercial model built on sharing knowledge have earned it a trusted reputation throughout the biologicals industry.

The biologicals market is expected to be the fastest-growing crop protection segment in the industry, representing 25% of the overall market by 2035.

Three inducted into Louisiana Ag Hall of Distinction

Three individuals who have spent their careers improving agriculture in Louisiana are the newest inductees into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction.

The inductees are rice and crawfish farmer Gerard Frey, of Iota; Steve Linscombe, longtime LSU AgCenter rice breeder and current director of the USA Rice Federation Leadership Development Program, who currently resides in Mountain Home, Texas; and Jackie Theriot, a sugarcane farmer and advocate for the sugarcane industry from St. Martinville.

A joint effort of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Radio Network, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction honors individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture or agriculture-related industries.

Frey’s first rice crop on his own was during his senior year in high school, and he has been raising rice ever since for 44 consecutive years. Like many rice farmers in the area, Frey also raises crawfish. Frey’s wife, Dana, convinced him to build a crawfish processing facility because they had access to a fresh-caught product. She is now responsible for running the entire crawfish operation, which also processes alligator throughout the year.

Linscombe served nearly 30 years as the rice breeder at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. During his tenure, 33 new rice varieties were released. One of the most significant advancements came with the development of the Clearfield varieties. The rice industry now had a new way to attack red rice, a weed that is a very close relative to commercial rice. It revolutionized how rice producers could now cultivate and grow their crops.

Upon retirement from the AgCenter in 2017, he moved to Texas and became heavily involved with The Rice Foundation, which is the education arm of the U.S. rice industry. He continues to work on sustainability issues and with rice breeders across the globe to improve rice quality.

Theriot was born in Catahoula in St. Martin Parish, the son of a sugarcane farmer. He graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1962 with an agronomy degree. 

In 1968, Theriot returned home to raise sugarcane. Fifteen years later, he became the general manager of the Breaux Bridge Sugar Cooperative. In 1985, he became a member of the American Sugar Cane League Board of Directors as a processor member.

For more information regarding the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction event, contact Robyn Dow with the Louisiana Radio Network at 225-291-2727 or office@louisianaradionetwork.com.

In memory: Alex Balafoutis

Alex Balafoutis

As reported in The Daily, USA Rice extends condolences to the family and friends of Alex Balafoutis who passed away Feb. 26.

“The U.S. rice industry has lost a beloved friend and servant far too early in life,” said Chris Crutchfield, president & CEO of American Commodity Company. “For those who knew him well, Alex was a person who could always be counted on in time of need — whether it be business or personal.”

Alex started his career in the rice industry in California more than 40 years ago at Pacific International Rice Mills. He worked at PGP International for 35 years before moving to Western Foods in 2019.

A dedicated advocate for the U.S. rice industry, Alex served on numerous USA Rice and California Rice Commission boards and committees promoting U.S.-origin rice and rice products all over the globe. 

He was a past chair of the USA Rice Millers’ Association, and also led the USA Rice Asia Technical Working Group for the last two decades where he was instrumental in opening the Japanese rice market to U.S. imports.

Alex was known by family, friends and colleagues as a person who could always have a good time and put a smile on your face. He was a rabid fan of the San Francisco 49ers and the Sacramento Kings, and was looking forward to watching his Kings make the playoffs this year.

Texas A&M AgriLife specialists receive water awards

Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., received the Mid-
Career Award for Extension/
Outreach/
Engagement.

Two Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service specialists received awards from the Universities Council on Water Resources, UCOWR, for education, outreach and resource management.

Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension state soil specialist, Bryan-College Station, received the Mid-Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement, while Michael Kuitu, AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator for the Texas Watershed Steward program, received the Education and Public Service Award.

Michael Kuitu

UCOWR was founded in 1964 and is a consortium of academic institutions and affiliates invested in water resources research, education and outreach.

“We are proud to have two of our AgriLife Extension faculty receive these prestigious awards,” said David Baltensperger, Ph.D., head of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Bryan-College Station. “These awards emphasize the work done across Texas and abroad to protect and enrich soils and nutrients through public education and outreach.”

Mowrer’s efforts span statewide and nationally, working with clientele across Texas on issues related to soil nutrient and water resource management.

Mowrer works to help agricultural producers adopt best practices in soil, fertilizer and animal waste management to steward nutrient resources appropriately. He works with farmers to improve soil function and to capture rainfall, but Mowrer said he also works with urban clientele to improve the management of fertilizers on lawns and gardens.

“By increasing the adoption of these practices, all Texans can take pride in the restoration of clean water resources across the state,” he said.

Most notably, prior to coming to Texas, Mowrer was also credited with providing information and water testing resources to assist Georgia residents with improving the quality of water in their community that has been linked to cancer.

“It is absolutely impossible to determine how many lives were saved and are still being saved because of Jake’s testing and providing information to the necessary government agencies and the public,” wrote Janet McMahan in her support letter. “My son Ben lived an extra four years that he would not have lived if he had kept drinking our water.”

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition and to help citizens across the country in providing them with education and resources about soil and water management,” Mowrer said.

Kuitu is a licensed professional geoscientist in Texas, a certified floodplain manager and holds two degrees and a graduate certificate from Texas A&M University: master of water management and hydrologic science, bachelor of environmental geoscience and graduate certificate in business.

His career has centered on water resource/water quality management and remediation, including geoscientific review of contaminated soil and groundwater remediation cases overseen by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 

The Texas Watershed Steward program is a non-point source pollution mitigation education program funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. EPA. 

As coordinator of the program, Kuitu is responsible for facilitating and educating stakeholder groups to participate in the development of watershed protection plans and water resource restoration and protection projections throughout Texas.

“I am honored to have been selected for this award,” Kuitu said. “My colleagues, both past and present, along with AgriLife Extension and Jake as my supervisor, have enabled me the opportunities to exercise the attributes that led to this award. I could not have done it without them. They are also very deserving of equal recognition.”

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