The Mississippi Rice Promotion Board voted unanimously on Dec. 20, 2012, to join the USA Rice Federation as of Jan. 1, 2013. This action brings Mississippi rice farmers together with farmers from other rice-producing states in the USA Rice organization, which now represents about 90 percent of U.S. rice production as well as the industry infrastructure that supports U.S. rice farming, including millers, merchants and exporters, through its member associations. With this move, Mississippi rice farmers will be represented on the boards of directors of the USA Rice Federation, USA Rice Producers’ Group and USA Rice Council, as well as USA Rice program committees.
“As Mississippi rice farmers, we took a critical look at our long-term needs and determined the USA Rice Federation offers the leadership and programs necessary to tackle the significant challenges we and the rice industry as a whole must address,” said Mississippi Rice Promotion Board Chairman Claude Gibson “Gibb” Steele III, a rice producer from Hollandale, MS.
The Mississippi Rice Council adopted a “unity resolution” in November 2011 in an effort to promote industry unity and cooperation among all rice producers, across all rice-state boundaries and across all industry segments. Discussions between Mississippi rice farmers and farmers in USA Rice Council member states continued throughout 2012, contributing to the December vote, which rice leaders hailed as an important step in rice industry unification.
“I commend Mississippi for their commitment to unity and for entering into a dialogue with USA Rice. We need Mississippi at the table as we’re developing and implementing programs and thank them for their decision to join us,” said USA Rice Council Chairman Joe Mencer, a rice farmer from Lake Village, AR.
“The USA Rice Producers’ Group wholeheartedly welcomes Mississippi. It is more important now than ever that rice farmers join together and that we work side by side as one industry,” said USA Rice Producers’ Group Chairman Linda Raun, a rice producer from El Campo, TX. “A united industry is imperative if we are to be successful and Mississippi’s decision is a positive and important step toward achieving this goal.”
Mississippi will designate its representatives to USA Rice boards and committees in coming weeks and will be represented at the USA Rice Federation’s Government Affairs Conference in February.
“We thank Mississippi’s rice leaders for engaging with USA Rice and getting to know the work the organization does daily on multiple fronts to benefit rice farmers and the industry,” said USA Rice Federation Chairman Mark Denman. “USA Rice is a member-led organization and Mississippi’s participation strengthens our collective voice, which will benefit our advocacy and programs for the U.S. rice industry here at home and around the world.”