Kellogg Co., LSU AgCenter announce rice program plans

Bruce Schultz, Saichuk, John K., Linscombe, Steven D.

Brothers Jeff, C.J. and Greg Durand receive the 2010 Rice Farmer of the Year Award at the USA Rice Federation Outlook Conference recently (Dec. 9) in Biloxi, Miss. The Durands grow rice and crawfish on 1,100 acres in St. Martin Parish. (Photo by Bruce Schultz. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

News Release Distributed 12/13/10

BILOXI, Miss. – The Kellogg Company of Battle Creek, Mich., recently announced a partnership with the LSU AgCenter to develop a sustainability program for Louisiana rice producers who grow rice that is earmarked for Kellogg’s products.

Diane Holdorf, Kellogg vice president of environmental stewardship, told the 2010 USA Rice Federation Outlook Conference Kellogg has been working with the LSU AgCenter to develop a functional pilot program. She said the program will rely on expertise within the LSU AgCenter and with Louisiana rice millers to help develop a master grower program that will incorporate aspects of the AgCenter’s Master Farmer program and focus on environmentally sound and profitable rice production.

“It’s really about education and awareness,” Holdorf said.

The program has been developed to be mutually beneficial for the producers who participate as well as Kellogg said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station and rice breeder.

“The ultimate goal of the program will be to ensure that this rice is produced in a sustainable and profitable manner,” Linscombe said.

Kellogg has become concerned about sustainability within its own corporate operations, as well as its suppliers, Holdorf said. The company has set a series of goals of waste reduction, decreased energy and water usage, and generating less greenhouse gas.

But she said Kellogg, among the top five rice buyers in the United States, has realized that its sustainability focus must include its suppliers. “The biggest impacts are right there in the field.”

Kellogg has never grown its own products, Holdorf said, and the company has a good working relationship with the rice industry. The company also will apply sustainability principles to other key cereal ingredients, including corn, wheat and palm oil.

Resource consumption worldwide to produce enough food every year is taking its toll, Holdorf said. “We’re at a point right now where we are extracting water faster than the rate it can be replenished.”

The sustainability movement is gaining a foothold in other countries, she said, although a French requirement to label food products with a sustainability index has been delayed.

U.S. agriculture only generates 6 percent of the U.S. greenhouse gases, and rice is only a small part of that total, said Jennifer James of the USA Rice Federation. “Our footprint has gotten dramatically smaller on a per-unit-of-production basis in recent years.”

A study commissioned by the Rice Foundation shows during the past 20 years, farmers need 21 percent less land to produce 100 pounds of rice, and that means an 821,000-acre reduction in land used for production.

The study also shows, during the past two decades, a 43 percent decrease in soil loss, a 33 percent reduction in water requirements, a 52 percent reduction in energy usage and a 20 percent decrease in soil methane generation.

Rice farming creates wildlife habitat, and advances in rice farming have decreased the amount of inputs needed to make a crop, while boosting yields, James said.

Marty Matlock, director of the University of Arkansas Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, said Walmart is promoting sustainability and placing emphasis on buying products from small to medium-sized agricultural producers.

Also at the conference, the Durand Farm in St .Martin Parish was recognized as the 2010 Rice Farmer of the Year. The award to brothers C.J., Greg and Jeff Durand recognized them for their progressive farming practices and as well as an active involvement in farm policy.

Elaine Champagne, a U.S. Department of Agriculture chemist received the 2010 Rice Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards are sponsored by Syngenta, USA Rice Federation and Rice Farming magazine.

Two Louisiana students also won scholarships. Taylor Granger of Jennings took the top honor with a $4,000 scholarship for his rice promotion project called “Rice Rocks.” Hannah Miller of Crowley won a $1,500 award for winning third place. The scholarship program is sponsored by the USA Rice Federation and Dow AgroSciences.

Members of the USA Rice Leadership program, sponsored by John Deere, Ricetec, American Commodity Co., also were announced. They include Mark Pousson of Welsh, La.; Paul Zaunbrecher of Rayne, La.,; Galen Franz of Victoria, Texas; Marc Breckenridge of Durham, Calif.; Brendan O’Donnell, of Sacramento, Calif.; Park Eldridge of Gillette, Ark.; and Scott Gairhan of Truman, Ark.

During the conference, Linscombe and LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk gave an overview of their work during the past year and the 2010 growing season.

The first crop in Louisiana was disappointing, mainly because of the heat, Saichuk said, but the second crop was one of the best ever. He expects rice acreage to drop in 2011 because of good prices for other commodities.

Some growers were making contracts with buyers for specific types of rice, such as CL161 and Jazzman, and the result was better prices in a contract, he said.

The three new varieties developed by the LSU AgCenter – Jazzman-2, Caffey and CL152 – should draw interest from growers, Linscombe said. Work on hybrid development will continue at the Rice Research Station.

“We’re encouraged by what we see,” Linscombe said. “We are learning this technology will actually enhance our pure line efforts.”

Commodity consultant David Hightower said he is optimistic that the worldwide demand for rice and other agricultural commodities will increase, raising prices with a good outlook for the next 3-4 years.

“It’s going to be better than you think,” Hightower said. “I’ve never been more upbeat.”

Nathan Childs, U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities analyst, said prices will stay relatively unchanged for 2011. “We see almost no changes in prices next year.”

Childs said the growth of rice imports from Thailand has slowed. “It may be the domestic varieties are competing.”

Those domestic varieties include the Jazzman variety developed by the LSU AgCenter. Saichuk said more than 4,000 acres of Jazzman were grown in Louisiana in 2010.

Bruce Schultz
1/4/2011 1:11:26 AM
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