Vicky Boyd, Rice Farming Magazine Editor
SAN DIEGO, CA - Every year at the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon Rice Farming bestows three awards: Rice Farmer of the Year, the Rice Industry Award, and the Rice Lifetime Achievement Award. These annual recognitions, co-sponsored by Horizon Ag and USA Rice, highlight some of the most positive achievements associated with the U.S. rice industry.
The 2018 Rice Farmer of the Year is Melvin "Skip" Hula, a fourth generation rice farmer from Hazen, Arkansas. Many people describe Hula as having the mind of an engineer and the heart of a farmer. He constantly thinks outside the box for new ways to make farming more efficient, not just for himself, but for the farming community as a whole. He has engineered and built several implements that he uses and sells to other farmers, and created Hula Manufacturing Inc. as a better way to produce those inventions.
Cole Plafcan, with AgHeritage Farm Credit Service, describes Hula as "genuine and kind, a good farmer and a man of high character, integrity, family, and faith."
After farming for 23 years, Rice Industry Award winner Earl Garber became a crop consultant with a keen interest in conservation. Earl says, "As a full-time farmer involved in food production, my strategy was to come up with good management practices, build a system to implement them, and make sure we were profitable in the end."
Earl has been a supervisor on the local Acadia Soil and Water Conservation District board and served as president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. He says he "enjoys being able to assist other farmers and grow my involvement with conservation and my community."
Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marvin Hare farms 6,000 acres of long grain rice, soybeans, and corn, and just completed his 52nd crop. While spending time with his family and tilling the land they have owned for more than 100 years, the Newport, Arkansas producer, innovator, research advocate, businessman, and leader has garnered the respect of the entire U.S. rice industry.
Hare believes "the future of rice farming will be bright and exciting. Researchers are developing better varieties, finding more efficient ways to irrigate, and fine-tuning conservation practices. The technology we have today is mind-boggling."
To learn more about the three recipients, check out the special section included in the December issue of Rice Farmingmagazine.