Honorees, industry issues took center stage at St. Louis meeting.
Despite inclement weather across the region, attendance at the 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference in St. Louis was outstanding. More than 600 rice farmers and industry affiliates attended the meeting to hear presentations and visit the trade show’s 50 exhibits.
The Dec. 5 morning program included presentations by Jim Wiesemeyer, vice president, Informa Economics; and Richard Brock, president, Brock Associates. The afternoon learning session was a comprehensive discussion on building effective farm business management systems led by Dick Wittman of Wittman Consulting Services. In another session, USA Rice senior staff provided issue updates on the Farm Bill, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and more.
To view these presentations, go to usarice.com, click on Meetings, 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference and Presentations. In addition to the regular program, many individuals were honored at the Rice Awards Luncheon and are featured here in a pictorial display.
USA Rice Federation contributed information and photos for this article. Visit the website at www.usarice.com.
The 2013 National Rice Month Scholarship grand prize was awarded to Jessica Whitaker of McGehee, Ark. From left: Dow AgroSciences’ Leslie Hooker, grand prize winner Jessica Whitaker and USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward. Whitaker took top honors and earned a $4,000 scholarship for her mass media promotion about the benefits of the rice industry. Whitaker’s news articles reached an estimated audience of 21,000 throughout southeast Arkansas.
Second-place winner Callie Wilcox of Winnie, Texas, will receive a $3,000 scholarship, and third-place winner Cade Bethea of Stuttgart, Ark., will receive a $1,500 award. The scholarship is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.
From left: Leo LaGrande, Dave White and Al Montna. USA Rice Producers Group Conservation Committee Chairman LaGrande recognized Dave White’s leadership in, and contributions to, U.S. agricultural conservation with the presentation of the fourth annual USA Rice Federation Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award.
“It is the USA Rice Federation’s privilege to present this award to Dave White,” LaGrande says. “Dave worked very closely with the rice industry during his tenure as NRCS Chief. His vision and foresight led to the development and implementation of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative in several Mid-South and Gulf Coast states, including the five rice-producing states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.”
White helped to develop the program in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, to provide habitat for millions of migratory birds whose annual habitat sites in the Gulf region had been damaged by the spill. The large majority of the program’s enrolled acres were rice fields. White also was instrumental in working closely with the California rice industry to develop and implement the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program.
The new members of the 2014 Rice Leadership Development Program class are from left: Jeremy Jones, England Ark.; Will Reneau, Beaumont, Texas; Derek Haigwood, Newport, Ark.; A.J. Sabine of the Louisiana Farm Bureau, Baton Rouge, La.; Jon Munger, Yuba City, Calif.; and Clayton Schaefer, McCrory, Ark. Not pictured is Jonathon Hobbs of Russell Marine Group, Jefferson, La.
“The caliber of applicants made choosing this year’s class especially difficult and that’s a problem the rice industry likes to have,” says Marvin Cochran, Chairman of the Rice Foundation. Cochran went on to thank everyone who applied to the program and encouraged the crowd to reach out to those not selected this time to suggest they apply again to the program next year.
John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc. and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation. The USA Rice Federation manages the program.
Dr. Eric Webster, who specializes in rice weed management research with the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, is pictured with his wife Sarah. Dr. Webster was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Rice Industry Award.
Meryl Farr congratulates her father Elton Kennedy of Mer Rouge, La., on his having received the 2013 Rice Lifetime Achievement Award. Elton is a longtime farmer, whose business has evolved to include rice handling and milling.
Joe Aguzzi – the 2013 Rice Farmer of the Year – was unable to attend the Rice Awards Luncheon because of bad weather. However, he was well represented by several members of his family who accepted the award on his behalf. From left: Rice Farming editor Carroll Smith, Ronnie Aguzzi, Michael Aguzzi, Brenda Aguzzi, Celia Manley and Scott Manley.
Joe Aguzzi planted his first rice crop in 1954 and has seen that initial effort grow into a 10,000-acre family farming operation in Bolivar and Sunflower Counties, Miss.
The Rice Awards – Rice Farmer of the Year, Rice industry and Rice Lifetime Achievement – are sponsored by Rice Farming magazine, Horizon Ag and the USA Rice Federation.