Frances Gould | 10/7/2013 8:56:05 PM
What makes our country great is that we agree, from time to time, to reserve collectively some of our revenue, money or resources for our own needs and survival. That’s how we have our highways, police, military, fire protection, schools and universities, etc.
I once had a conversation with a diplomat from Cuba in which the differences about philosophies in money became clear. In the Cuban system, according to the diplomat, the philosophy was that all the money belongs to the government, and the government doles it out as government officials see fit. In our system, however, all the money belongs to individuals, and the government receives only what the citizenry deems necessary to dole out to the government.
In most instances, this part the government receives is called a tax. The tax that is collected goes into government coffers to be distributed by representatives of all the citizenry to those with the most influence and need regardless of who participated in the tax. We are all familiar with that process.
But in the rice farming community we call this a "checkoff," because it is collected at the first point of sale from every producer who sells rice, regardless of amount. The more rice you produce, the more you contribute. What differs from "tax" is that the funds, while collected by a governmental body, are reserved and dedicated to rice research. It is not the government’s money to be distributed as it sees fit.
The checkoff is self-imposed and self-regulated. At the request of our rice organizations, the governor appoints 13 rice producers (and those appointments are ratified by the state Senate) to serve as trustees for the funds. These funds then are apportioned to various agreed-upon rice research projects, keeping in mind those areas of research that would benefit the rice industry most.
Since the checkoff is self-imposed, the Louisiana rice community holds a referendum every five years to decide if it is willing to continue the checkoff. In addition to serving as trustees of the funds, the Louisiana Rice Research Board is instructed by law to organize and hold the referendum. That referendum will be held Jan. 17, 2012.
Specific voting places will be set up in the LSU AgCenter Extension Service offices in Acadia, Jeff Davis, Calcasieu/Cameron, Evangeline, Vermilion and St. Landry parishes. For other parishes with 50 or fewer rice producers, mail ballots will be sent out.
This referendum is held jointly with the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board, so there will be two ballots.
For the rice industry to continue its advancement, research that helps us grow rice and promotion that helps us sell rice are vital to our industry. It is important that we demonstrate we are willing to help ourselves by voting on Jan. 17 to continue to impose this checkoff on our production.
Jackie Loewer, Chairman
Rice Research Board members
Paul "Jackie" Loewer Jr.
Clarence A. Berken
Donald J. Berken
Dane L. Hebert
Johnny Hensgens Jr.
Robert H. Miller
Samuel J. Noel
Wayne P. Wild
Frederick C. Zaunbrecher
Linda G. Zaunbrecher
(This article was published in the 2012 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)
|Go to Report Home Page||PDF Version 2012 Report|
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.