Checkoff program funds research; renewal vote slated for Jan. 17

Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce  |  10/7/2013 8:45:20 PM

From variety development to pest control and general agronomics, the rice research checkoff program helps rice farmers across Louisiana in a variety of ways.

The rice breeding program at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station depends heavily on the checkoff funds to help pay the costs of developing new varieties.

"Without checkoff money, farmers would be at a disadvantage because we would not be able to continue producing new varieties as we do now," said Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station.

A referendum will be held Jan. 17 regarding continuation of the checkoff program’s 5 cents per hundredweight assessment that is paid when rice is sold.

Farmer Jimmy Hoppe of Fenton said the progression of new varieties has led to yield increases.

"I remember when I first started farming rice – when we made 30 barrels to the acre, we thought we had a great crop," Hoppe said. "Now, because of the varieties research has developed, we’re making 40 to 50 barrels to the acre."

The rice research checkoff program began in 1972, and the referendum has been approved by farmers every five years when it has come up for a vote. The referendum will be considered again on Jan. 17. Balloting will be conducted at parish extension offices in the largest rice growing areas and by mail for parishes with 50 or fewer rice growers.

Since it was first approved, the checkoff program has raised more than $30 million that has been invested in research.

The 13-member Louisiana Rice Research Board, made up of farmers from throughout the state, decide annually how the funds are to be spent on research projects.

Christian Richard, a rice farmer in Vermilion Parish and president of the Louisiana Rice Growers Association, said funds are needed to make sure research is conducted to help farmers deal with new problems.

"Whether it’s a new herbicide-tolerant weed or an insect like the sugarcane borer, we’ll continue to need research to provide the solutions," Richard said.

Total checkoff funds provided
for LSU AgCenter research
in 2011: $1.45 million

(This article was published in the 2012 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)


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Please click on the links above to go to the Rice Research Board Reports home page, to go to the 2013 report, and to go to the PDF version of the 2012 report.

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