Rayville rice producer and Vice President of the NELA Rice Growers Association Scott Franklin kicked off the Northeast Louisiana Rice Forum in Rayville, Louisiana, last week by thanking the crowd for coming out to hear research reports from LSU AgCenter personnel and an industry update from USA Rice’s Michael Klein, vice president of communications and domestic promotion.
LSU Rice Breeder Dr. Adam Famosa discussed rice varieties available, including the pending release of a promising new jasmine variety; agronomist Dr. Dustin Harrell shared trend data with a detailed discussion of The Provisia System; weed scientist Dr. Eric Webster and plant pathologist Dr. Don Groth discussed pressures Louisiana rice is feeling and what steps growers can take to best position themselves for the 2018 growing season; and Dr. Sebe Brown, area entomologist, discussed the best strategies to reduce pest pressure while simultaneously protecting crawfish populations.
Klein shared an update on trade issues of particular interest to Louisiana including the latest on Mexico and the North American Free Trade Agreement, trade with Iraq, Haiti, and rice in food aid. He also talked about the conservation efforts of USA Rice, who in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other partners has brought more than $60 million in conservation funding to the rice industry – $11 million of which is specifically available for Louisiana rice farmers.
He also screened a video about the state’s Yellow Rails & Rice Festival that showcases the unique relationship between rice, birds, and conservation that was produced in part with a grant from the NRCS, and a video from a local high school student who won Honorable Mention in last years’ National Rice Month Scholarship Video Contest.
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Klein wrapped up by discussing a USA Rice program produced in part with a grant from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) designed to help farmers of organic and traditional rice evaluate crop insurance options and choose the most appropriate product.
“We launched our crop insurance education program at the 2017 Outlook Conference and we are continuing our grower outreach through 2018,” Klein said. “Our program is designed to help growers mitigate their financial risk, so we are encouraging everyone to take advantage of the information no matter what rice crop they grow.”