Louisiana Rice Research Board Administers Rice Research Funds

Steven Linscombe  |  12/16/2016 2:26:19 PM

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Louisiana Rice Research Board, (left to right-bottom row) Brian Wild, Jackie Loewer, Clarence Berken, Richard Fontenot, Jason Waller, Damian Bollich, & Jude Doise (top row) Philip Lamartiniere, Benjy Rayburn, Ronnie Sonnier, Fred Zaunbrecher, Sammy Noel, Donald Berken, Michael Fruge, & Dane Hebert

Louisiana Rice Research Board Administers Rice Research Funds

Steve Linscombe

LSU AgCenter

Southwest Region/Rice Research Station

The Louisiana Rice Research Board met on November 11 to review funded projects, evaluate new proposed projects and make decisions on funding for 2017. The board is a 15-member group that administers funds collected at a rate of $.05/cwt on rice produced in Louisiana. These funds can be used only for rice-related research purposes. This program was established as a result of state legislation. The members are selected by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by four rice producer organizations in the state. The state Commissioner of Agriculture (or designee) also serves as a member. These members serve with no remuneration, and all of their services are totally voluntary. Current board members include Clarence Berken (Vice-Chair), Donald Berken, Damian Bollich, Jude Doise, Richard Fontenot (Secretary/Treasurer), Michael Fruge, Dane Hebert, Philip Lamartiniere, Jackie Loewer (Chair), Sammy Noel, Benjy Rayburn (designee of the Commissioner of Agriculture), Ronnie Sonnier, Jason Waller, Brian Wild and Fred Zaunbrecher.

The board provides funds to a number of LSU AgCenter scientists conducting research that will provide new technologies to improve rice production and utilization. Funded projects cover a broad range of research areas, such as variety development, genetics, weed, disease and insect control, physiology, agronomic practices, ratoon (second) crop production and economics.

Research funded by this board has led to dramatic improvements in rice production technology. Average per acre yields have increased more than 50 percent since this board began funding research projects. Much of this increase in yield is due to improved varieties that have greater yield potential under Louisiana climatic conditions. Other improvements have come from better weed, insect and disease control technology, much of which has been the result of research conducted in Louisiana under board-funded projects. Rice research scientists must continually adapt to new challenges. Research such as this is expensive, and the availability as well as stability of funding plays a key role in the long-term productivity of this or any research endeavor. The Rice Research Board funds have been a stable source of money through the years and, thus, have helped many rice research programs deliver improved technology to the industry. This, in turn, helps keep our industry as competitive as possible.

The current economic situation for rice producers in Louisiana is challenging at best. Prices that rice producers are receiving for the crop is low, and the production costs are extremely high. In addition, the southwest Louisiana rice production region suffered from a devastating flood in mid-August of this year, which destroyed some of the rice that was unharvested at that time and greatly reduced the yield and quality of that which could be harvested. Rice production technology improvements as a result of research funded by the board will certainly help Louisiana rice producers weather this current storm waiting for better times ahead.

Currently, the Rice Research Board is also receiving funding from tariff rate quotas as a result of trade agreements with Colombia and the European Union. These funds are primarily being devoted to infrastructure and equipment improvements that will pay long-term benefits to Louisiana rice research efforts. An example of this is the state-of-the-art, marker-assisted breeding system that will greatly facilitate rice variety development activities in the future. These funds are also helping to build a new rice milling technology unit. Some of these funds are also being used to update field equipment on the rice station as well as drill a new water well and make improvements in the irrigation system on the research station. These investments will yield long-term benefits to rice research efforts for many years.

Research is expensive, and the availability as well as stability of funding plays a key role in the long-term productivity of any research endeavor. The Rice Research Board funds have been a stable source of money through the years and, thus, have helped many rice research endeavors deliver improved technology to the industry. This in turn helps keep our industry as competitive as possible, which is especially critical under economic conditions such as those faced by producers today.

This project was partially supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Permission granted December 15, 2016 by B. Leonards (LA Farm & Ranch) to republish article on www.lsuagcenter.com.

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