SACRAMENTO — Session three of the 2012-14 Rice Leadership Development Program just concluded, providing participants with an overview of California’s rice marketing and production practices, crop diversity, conservation and environmental issues, and a close-up look at the state’s rice harvest. Rice producer Brian Barrett of Arbuckle and industry-related member Brice Lauppe of Roseville participated. Class members met with key officials at Farmers’ Rice Cooperative, the California Rice Commission and Louie Brown with Kahn, Soares & Conway. Participants also learned about rice marketing activities, water management, social media tools, and conservation practices. “Having the opportunity to learn more about social media was extremely beneficial,” said Lauppe. “I was excited to show my class members the diversity of agriculture we have in California that is so different from the South,” Barrett said. At the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District, participants observed a fish screen project that protects young Chinook juvenile salmon and provides water for rice growers. They also viewed the Oroville Dam, Lake Shasta and the Salinas Valley water systems. Nicole Van Vleck, an alumnus from the 2011-13 Leadership program spoke about conservation practices at Montna Farms. USA Rice Millers Association Chairman Chris Crutchfield discussed marketing California medium-grain rice around the world and Michael Rue, chairman of the USA Rice Asia Trade Policy Committee discussed global trade issues. Class members observed rice harvesting on the ranches of Mark and Sandy Ottenwalter and Montna Farms before traveling to Lundberg Family Farms to observe their operation. Dr. Kent McKenzie, director of the California Rice Research Station in Biggs, gave an update on the state’s research efforts. In addition to Barrett, the other rice producer class members are Timothy Gertson of Lissie, TX; Noble Guedon of Natchez, MS; Rance Daniels of Hornersville, MO; and Clint Roth of Stuttgart, AR. The other industry-related member is Dr. Natalie Hummel with Bayer CropScience in Raleigh, NC. The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation. The leadership class will meet for its fourth and final session in Washington, D.C., in February in conjunction with USA Rice’s annual Government Affairs Conference.