Rice farmers continue funding research at LSU AgCenter

Schultz Bruce, Linscombe, Steven D.

News Release Distributed 10/31/13

CROWLEY, La. – The Louisiana Rice Research Board reviewed a number of proposals from LSU AgCenter scientists and agreed Tuesday to provide $1.29 million for next year’s projects to help Louisiana rice farmers.

Research projects totaling $1.67 million had been requested by the LSU AgCenter, but the board decided to fund existing projects at 10 percent less than the 2013 total and to fund only two new projects.

This money came from funds generated by an annual checkoff program in existence for more than 40 years. Projects supported with this funding have resulted in the development of new varieties, improved production practices, pest management strategies, and marketing information.

“The success of the Louisiana rice industry is directly related to the efforts of those scientists who have been supported with these checkoff funds by the stakeholders for many years,” said Rogers Leonard, associate vice chancellor and program leader for plant and soil sciences with the LSU AgCenter.

Recently, some of the statutes that dictate the conduct of the rice checkoff process have been ruled unconstitutional as the result of litigation by a small group of farmers.

Under the long-standing process, farmers had been paying 5 cents for every 100 pounds of rice they sold to fund research, and 3 cents for promotion. Now the board is appealing to farmers to continue paying the assessments under a voluntary program.

Board members said they are confident that most farmers will continue to pay the assessments that will be tax deductible.

“I think the support is there in the countryside,” said board member Richard Fontenot, an Evangeline Parish farmer.

“The conservative nature of this board may help keep this station operating,” Leonard said. “These funds are critically important to maintaining the intensive operations that are involved in rice research.”

Leonard also said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, has agreed to dedicate additional intellectual property funds to support Louisiana rice research, with the members of the Rice Research Board serving on an advisory committee to provide input on how the funds should be spent.

These funds are generated from royalties on the sale of Clearfield rice, a technology developed by scientists at the Rice Research Station.

Board member Brian Wild, a farmer from Jefferson Davis Parish, said he appreciates the vital role the Rice Research Station and its dedicated personnel have played in the rice industry. “We know this isn’t just a job for you all.”

Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Research Station, said he and other rice researchers are appreciative of the funds provided by the board. The research supported by these funds will continue to pay dividends in the future.

Among the major projects funded are variety development, genetic research into improving rice disease resistance, optimum fertilizer management, hybrid rice development, identification genetic markers to assist in variety development, development of herbicide-resistant rice, plant breeding to develop salt-tolerant rice lines, communications, rice grain quality enhancement, and work on pests, including weeds, insects and disease.

The two new projects are a study of the effects of different water management systems on arsenic concentrations in rice, milling quality and crop yield, and work to improve calibration of aerial applications of fertilizer and rice seed.

Bruce Schultz
11/1/2013 1:25:03 AM
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