Optimism welcomes a new, and better, year

Betsy Ward

By Betsy Ward
President and CEO
USA Rice

Every year around this time, many of us make resolutions, looking forward to the new year and imagining how we can make the world a better place and improve ourselves. It’s a time of new beginnings, fresh starts and optimism!

There’s no doubt 2019 was hard: Prices and acreage were down; uncertainty plagued the trade front; and weather, where the nicest thing you could say about it was that it was uncooperative and unforgiving, was a challenge. But I believe 2020 is going to be a better year.

I spent lots of time visiting with rice farmers, researchers and industry observers at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock last month and though the “good riddance to 2019” sentiment was pretty universal. For the most part, folks were optimistic about the year ahead. And that makes me hopeful.

Whether it is deploying new technologies and innovative practices we heard about at the Outlook Conference that could increase yields and drive down costs or the strides our government seemed to be making on important trade deals as 2019 was coming to a close, there is reason to believe this year is looking up.

What’s ahead

USA Rice is coming off an exciting year of promotion programs, both here and abroad, and we’re looking forward to building on our successes in 2020. I’ll write more about those programs in the coming months, but suffice to say, I’m excited about what lies ahead.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that 2020 is going to be a very hotly contested election year. With our nation as politically divided as it is, tempers will flare and voices will be raised.

On this front, I can only say that no matter what your political stripe, it is my wish for us all that we can approach the election season with respect for each other and our differing views and agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

I hope you all enjoyed a restful holiday season with friends and family and that you are feeling refreshed and ready to make 2020 a great year for the U.S. rice industry. We’ve got a lot of work to do and as always, there are a lot of big decisions ahead for us and for you.

2020 has so much potential. Knowing that our rice farmers are approaching it with the same determination and resilience as they always have makes it easy to predict that it’s going to be a good year.

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 USA Rice Outlook Conference opening reception — photos by Vicky Boyd

kane webb, jessica kincaid

Kane Webb (left) and Jesica Kincaid, both of USA Rice, compare notes at the USA Rice Outlook Conference opening reception about how many #RideWithRice truck raffle tickets were sold.