The 2012 Rice Leadership Development Program class participated in its first session April 2-6, with a weeklong look at rice production and marketing programs in the Gulf Coast states of Texas and Louisiana. Class members include rice producers Brian Barrett, Arbuckle, Calif.; Timothy Gertson, Lissie, Texas; Rance Daniels, Hornersville, Mo.; Noble Guedon, Natchez, Miss.; and Clint Roth of Stuttgart, Ark. Industry-related members are Dr. Natalie Hummel, Louisiana State University AgCenter from Baton Rouge, La., and Brice Lauppe, Farmers’ Rice Cooperative from Roseville, Calif.
Barrett, Luappe and fellow class members received an overview of several aspects of the rice industry during the session. The group met with USA Rice Federation staff in Houston for an overview of the rice industry, updates on domestic and international promotion efforts, and information about USA Rice’s organizational structure. The class also visited the largest domestic user of rice, Anheuser Busch, which purchases more than 9 percent of domestically produced rice, and alumnus Michael Creed from Creed Rice, Inc., who explained the role of international brokers. Participants also visited the offices of the US Rice Producers Association.
Riviana Foods Inc. reviewed consumer and industrial marketing techniques, while alumni Terry Hlavinka, Jerry Boettcher and Linda Raun spoke about Texas rice production before visiting the farms of Steve Balas and Ronald Gertson. The class also met with Dick Ottis, executive vice president of Rice Belt Warehouse, Inc., the state’s largest rice storage facility before going to RiceTec, Inc., where hybrid rice production technology was discussed.
In Lake Charles, La., the class met with Farmers Rice Milling Company and alumnus Philip Bertrand, who explained Louisiana rice marketing. The group toured the company’s Agrilectric Power Plant, which burns rice hulls to power the rice mill and sells the surplus electricity. Class members also toured the Louisiana State University Rice Research Station in Crowley, La., where alumnus Dr. Steve Linscombe summarized the latest rice research. While leaving Lake Charles, the class made a quick stop in Lacassine to view the South Louisiana Rail Facility.
The session concluded with a visit to Russell Marine Group in Metairie, La., to learn about river logistics as well as Eurofin’s laboratory testing services. The class also received a tour of a mid-stream loading facility on the Mississippi River, where they observed a ship being loaded.
John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc. and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and the USA Rice Federation administers it.