Participants in the first international session of the Rice Leadership Development program recently completed an intensive tour of several rice industry facilities. The tour included a dinner with executives from Dainty Foods, Canada’s only rice mill; a meeting with Keybrand Foods, which manufactures and distributes food products that use U.S. parboiled rice; and tours of Toronto retail stores that sell U.S.-grown rice.

The group also met executives of A&BB Rice, Canada’s largest importer, and attended a demonstration at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute. Finally, the participants met with David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada, and Robin Tilsworth, minister-counselor of agricultural affairs, to discuss U.S. rice. Canada was selected as the location of the first international leadership program session because of its importance to the U.S. rice industry and because it provided an opportunity for the participants to observe an international market with a USA Rice Federation promotional program.

During the trip, the class met with USA Rice’s Quebec Advisory Panel, which provides guidance on how to increase the awareness of the value, variety and versatility of U.S. rice in Canada.

Members of the first international leadership program session are Bill Dunklin, McGehee, Ark.; Philip Bertrand, Elton, La.; Michael Skalicky, Ganado, Texas; and Eric Unkel, Kinder, La. Funding for the international session was made possible with the addition of RiceTec Inc. as a sponsor of the Rice Leadership Development program, joining John Deere and Syngenta.

The international leadership session is open to program graduates who have since graduation, applied their skills to industry service.

The Rice Leadership Development program is funded through a grant to The Rice Foundation.