Future leaders of the rice industry took a firsthand look at rice marketing, research, environmental issues and production practices in California during the third session of the USA Rice Federation's 2002 Rice Leadership Development Program.

Five rice producers and two industry-related participants were part of a VIP class that received an overview of rice marketing, public and private research efforts, clean water and air issues, and California harvesting practices.

The class includes rice producers Kyle Baltz of Pocahontas, Ark.; Jerry Boettcher of East Bernard, Texas; Barrett Franz of Bay City, Texas; Mark Lavy of Biggs, Calif.; Joe Tupper of Elton, La., and industry participants Traci Garrett Harvey of Danbury, Texas and Rob Paschoal of Woodland, Calif.

The Rice Leadership Development Program provides future leaders with a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communications skills. During a two-year period, seven class members selected from rice producing states attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

Sacramento start

This session began in Sacramento and led the class through California's rice growing areas. The seven participants attended seminars and participated in discussions on a number of industry issues, including:

  • Air quality, wildlife and rice straw management issues, water quality challenges, and marketing to foodservice - California Rice Commission President and CEO Tim Johnson and his staff.

  • Smoke management from burning rice straw and straw utilization - Amy Castello and Matt Summers, California Air Resources Board.

  • Water quality and the rice pesticides program — Amanda Smith, rice program coordinator for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

  • Marketing efforts and milling practices - Farmers' Rice Cooperative, American Commodity Co., Lundburg Family Farms, and SunWest Foods.

  • Developing value-added products using rice as an ingredient - PGC, International.

  • Public and private research efforts - California Rice Research Station and Rice Researchers, Inc.

  • Making agriculture and nature work together, a tour of the Fish Screen Improvement Project - Don Bransford, president of Glenn Colusa Irrigation District.

  • California production practices, water and land costs, and marketing issues - Leo and Sid LaGrande.

  • Trade policy issues facing the California rice industry - USA Rice Council Chairman Michael Rue.

  • Update on projects to provide additional waterfowl habitat for California - Western Regional office of Ducks Unlimited.

The leadership class will meet for the fourth and final session in February 2004 in Washington D.C., where they will attend a special graduation ceremony.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Co. and Syngenta Crop Protection Inc through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and is administered by the USA Rice Federation.