To retain the personnel and resources required to continue the rich history of rice variety development at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, the Louisiana Rice Research Board opted to expand its endowment offerings.
At its semiannual meeting on June 30, the board agreed to establish a new endowed chair specifically for the LSU AgCenter’s rice breeding program at the Rice Research Station.
“The Rice Research Board found that it was in its best interest to enhance our chair by subdividing our funds to recipients of chairs,” said Richard Fontenot, Evangeline Parish rice producer and chairman of the Louisiana Rice Research Board. “We thought it was beneficial for the board to have this opportunity to share the funding with an additional recipient for more specific research as it relates to rice variety development.”
During the discussion at the June gathering, board members decided to split in half the existing $3 million endowment — intended for enhancing some of the general operations of the Rice Research Station. Now, both the Rice Research Station and the variety development program will be endowed with $1.5 million. The funding for both endowments stems from tariff-rate quota payments from the free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia.
“Rice is one of the crops produced in Louisiana in which the AgCenter has a major investment, in terms of research,” said Mike Salassi, LSU AgCenter program leader for plant and animal sciences. “If you talk to any producer, they’re going to tell you the most important thing in our rice research program is to have a good breeder who can develop improved, high yielding varieties.”
“For sustainability in this sector for generations to come, it is critical we have the varieties that are adaptable for our environments and our economic needs and that satisfy the markets,” Fontenot said. “The only way we can do that is through a vibrant, robust breeding program. This chair provides that.”
The original endowment — the Louisiana Rice Research Board Chair for Excellence in Rice Research — was established to primarily support the operation of the Rice Research Station. The additional endowment further verifies the Louisiana Rice Research Board’s support to the LSU AgCenter.
“Over the years, the Rice Research Board has funded our research and extension work at the AgCenter to increasing degrees over time,” Salassi said. “They have been excellent supporters. We know what their production issues are, and we try to do research to address those issues.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture