Jessica Kincaid, USA Rice
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV -- The USA Rice Millers' Association (RMA) held its 119th Annual Convention at the historic Greenbrier Resort here last week. Rice millers and allied industry participants heard from a variety of speakers on a wide range of topics including a workshop on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), methods to minimize waste by converting rice hulls into higher value products, and a fast-paced, eye-opening presentation on the future of retail by USA Rice Domestic Promotion Committee Chairman Paul Galvani.
Ambassador Gregg Doud, chief agriculture negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, spoke about critical trade topics including the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), retaliatory tariffs and market access for U.S. rice in China, the status of ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) rice-related cases, and the outlook of the Trump Administration's trade agenda.
RMA continued the convention tradition of a breakfast presentation by a National Geographic photojournalist. This year's speaker, Annie Griffiths, shared a variety of her photographs from around the world and promoted a message of global awareness. She also mentioned witnessing the positive impact of food assistance programs, in which many RMA members participate.
A highpoint of this year's convention was the awarding of RMA's Distinguished Service Award to two longtime members. Bill Dore and Bob Watts, with decades of combined service to the industry, were honored at the conclusion of Friday's general session. Dore is a third generation rice miller with deep ties to Louisiana rice milling and Watts served the industry at leadership positions in mills in Texas and California. Both men served as past chairmen of the RMA.
"Bill and Bob's achievements are a testament not only to their outstanding personal qualities but also to what makes the RMA great -- a collection of individuals building on over a century of service to the rice industry," said RMA Chairman Alex Balafoutis. "We meet each year in business and fellowship to move the industry forward, and it's the association's integrity, vision, and collaborative spirit that keeps RMA going strong."