USA Rice Governing Board Elects 2 New Leaders

With their two-year terms ending later this month, the chairs of two USA Rice governing boards handed their gavels to two rising industry leaders. Kirk Satterfield, a Mississippi rice farmer from Bolivar County, was unanimously elected to serve as the new chair of the USA Rice Farmers Board of Directors and Eric Unkel, a Louisiana rice farmer from Allen Parish, was unanimously elected to serve as the new chair of the USA Rice Council Board of Directors.

Chair-elect Satterfield thanked outgoing Chair Nicole Montna Van Vleck of California for her two years of service at the helm of the USA Rice Farmers.

“Nicole’s passion for policy work has helped us all, making sure rice farmers’ best interests were heard, and when the COVID-19 pandemic caused all sorts of issues for our markets, both domestically and internationally, Nicole played a key role to ensure rice farmers’ were included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments,” said Satterfield.

“She guided us through long-needed USDA updates to rice crop insurance, including adding alternate wetting and drying and furrow rice as insurable practices, and she also re-established the Farm Policy Task Force to prepare for the upcoming Farm Bill.”

“We have all benefited from Nicole’s service and dedication to the organization over the past two years,” said Satterfield. “Her tenure as chair could quite possibly could go down as both one of the most difficult and successful during these historic times.”

There also was a change in leadership for the USA Rice Council with Louisiana rice farmer Eric Unkle named the new chair. Unkle recognized his predecessor, Arkansas rice farmer Byron Holmes, for his leadership and commitment to the industry.

“Byron saw consumer behavior changing last year as a result of COVID-19 and though tragic, he knew this was a maybe once-in-a-generation opportunity for U.S.-grown rice, and he was integral in developing a new consumer outreach campaign,” said Unkel.

“Through budget challenges, record-setting storms, a global pandemic, and reduced acres – we could always count on Byron’s cool, measured demeanor. He’s always got a smile and a kind word, and that steady leadership helped put the Rice Council on a glide path to rebuild reserves while maintaining excellent programming.”

The USA Rice Farmers Board also elected Texas rice farmer L.G. Raun as vice chair. Each new appointee will serve a two-year term that begins August 1, 2021.

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