By Chuck Wilson USA Rice
SACRAMENTO, CA -- Late last month, the 2016/18 Rice Leadership Development Class completed Session Three of the program, a comprehensive tour of California's Central Valley rice country, including an overview of rice marketing and production practices, crop diversity, conservation and environmental issues, as well as a close look at rice harvest.
"As a California producer, it's my privilege to show my fellow class members around our region," said Imran Khan who hails from Chico. "Touring the unique growing regions here lets everyone see first-hand both the rewards and difficulties of farming in California.
The week-long program consisted of farm and mill visits, observation of water systems here, and meetings with representatives of the California Rice Commission, California Rice Research Station, and Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, as well as other activities.
"Having an opportunity to view the water districts in California's rice country was very interesting," said Arkansas producer Allen McLain. "While their recent drought is over, their delivery infrastructure ensures that when water is available it can be moved to where it is needed."
"The complexity of issues the local rice industry out here faces is daunting," said Sidney Robnett, a farmer from Arkansas. "From water and air quality issues, to wildlife preservation, to water availability, and increased cost of production for producers, it appears to be a delicate political and regulatory balance."
Class members also got to experience rice harvesting at Montna Farms after traveling to Lundberg Family Farms to observe their operation in Richvale. Sun Valley Rice Company in Arbuckle hosted a tour of their mill where they process brown sprouted rice, and the class also toured PGP International in Woodland to see the many ways rice is used as an ingredient.
"The diversity of crops that are planted so close to each other out here is amazing to me," said class member Sunny Bottoms, a technical service rep with Horizon Ag.
Members of this class are producers Michael Bosworth, Olivehurst, CA; Imran Khan, Chico, CA; Allen McLain, Abbeville, LA; Sidney Robnett, Stuttgart, AR; Brandon Truax, Gillett, AR; and industry-related members Sunny Bottoms, Dumas, AR, with Horizon Ag; and Kris Riggs, Jonesboro, AR, with Anheuser Busch.
The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by the USA Rice Federation.