COVID-19 prompts cancellation of 2020 Rice Outlook Conference

• By Deborah Willenborg •

david lacour, katie maher

Louisiana rice producer David Lacour (left) shows Katie Maher of USA Rice a photo on his phone as fellow producer Dane Hebert looks on during the 2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference opening reception — photo by Vicky Boyd

The 2020 USA Rice Outlook Conference, scheduled for Dec. 9-11, in Austin, Texas, will not be held in-person due to the impossibility of putting on a large trade show and conference in compliance with public health safety guidelines and regulations.

The USA Rice Board of Directors met via conference call Sept. 1 to discuss other options, including a full virtual conference, but reluctantly decided the best plan was to not hold the conference at all.

“No one is happy about this decision. But after looking at all possible scenarios, the board felt it made the most sense to forego the conference this year but still undertake some of the traditional conference sessions and awards by other means. We will be announcing the schedule for those events soon,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “The next live, in-person Outlook will be in New Orleans next year, and we will be sure to include time to recognize 2020 award recipients in-person. We will return to Austin for Outlook 2022.”

The annual USA Rice Outlook Conference brings together rice farmers, millers, merchants and representatives of allied businesses from all rice-producing states and beyond for information and interaction. The conference features speakers, learning sessions and a trade show bringing the new and promising innovations.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and this is definitely one of those times,” Ward said. “We’re certainly disappointed at having to cancel this year’s event, but, will conduct some of the Outlook Conference activities through other platforms like podcasts, social media and webinars, so watch this space for more details.”

This article originally appeared in USA Rice’s “The Daily.”