US Rice Milling: The $15 Billion Economic Engine

By Lesley Dixon, USA Rice

ARLINGTON, VA -- A recent report conducted by Louisiana State University's (LSU) AgCenter highlights just how essential the rice milling industry is, not only to rice-producing states but to the U.S. economy as a whole.  

According to the survey, which compiled data from universities and research centers in all six rice-producing states, rice milling operations contribute $9.34 billion in total goods and services to the U.S. economy, along with an additional $5.94 billion when labor wages and business profits are considered.  When the tab is added up, that amounts to more than $15 billion annually.   

The study, authored by Michael E. Salassi and J. Matthew Fannin of the LSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, uses a range of metrics to analyze the benefit the U.S. economy reaps from the rice milling industry.  When assessing the industry's true value to U.S. economic stability and security, Salassi and Fannin looked at the impact of indirect benefits such as wages created by businesses and industries affiliated with rice milling like shipping, for example, and factored in materials and goods purchased by rice millers as part of the milling process.  They also considered the wages that rice mill employees put back into the economy, helping it thrive, a concept known as "induced contributions." 

When all the data for direct, indirect, and induced contributions is tallied up, the result is clear:  rice milling contributes enormously to the U.S. economy at a local, state, and national level. 

Having this detailed data set available will be a valuable tool for USA Rice members, whether they're advocating in Washington or educating their own communities. 

"I think it's a great thing that this study is already being utilized," said Keith Gray, Texas rice miller and chair of the USA Rice Millers' Association Board of Directors.  "It's a sad fact that even in rice growing states, a lot of people still think the rice on the shelves comes from foreign countries.  We always knew the rice milling industry made a big impact on the local and national economy, but there wasn't ever anything in writing that said that.  This study shows without doubt that, yes, rice is a big industry, and yes, it's in your backyard."