STUTTGART, AR – A contingent of USA Rice staff participated in several industry events and meetings here this week, including the Arkansas Rice Research & Promotion Board, now under the auspices of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
“This board is the largest single contributor to the USA Rice Council outside of USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, so we regularly update them on the hundreds of activities we undertake on their behalf,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “We never want the board members or the farmers they represent to feel like they don’t know where their hard-earned money is going. We appreciate the continued support of the board and we look forward to now working with Agriculture Secretary Ward and his team as they manage the board going forward.”
Ward provided budget updates, including recently approved increases in some program areas including domestic promotion and Farm Bill education.
Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president of international, reported on volatile overseas markets, including a detailed analysis of Indian market manipulation. She also shared activity updates in key markets: Mexico, Central America, Haiti, Iraq, and Canada.
Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of communications & domestic promotion, gave a concise update on promotion programs that target national foodservice operators, suppliers, and K-12 chefs. He shared highlights of the just completed program year including the 50.5+ million impressions and 4.45+ million engagements generated by USA Rice social media partners.
The board heard updates from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, including a presentation on CRISPR technology, agronomy updates, and more.
The board elected new officers for a term of two years. Jim Whitaker of McGehee is the new chair of the board, David Gairhan of Jonesboro was elected vice chair, and David Petter of Stuttgart was elected secretary/treasurer.
Later that day, Brandy Carroll, director of commodity activities and market information for the
Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, was honored for her 22 years administering and managing the board.
“Not only does Brandy come from a rice farming family, but the institutional knowledge and wisdom she has and guidance she gives us are going to be difficult to replace,” said Whitaker. “She has kept our board running in good times and difficult times, and we thank her for giving so much of herself to our industry.”