Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce
The Louisiana Master Rice Growers program began in 2013 as a cooperative endeavor involving the LSU AgCenter, the Kellogg Co. and Louisiana Rice Mill – although development of the program has been underway for three years.
"It’s been a model pilot program and the first of its kind in rice production," said Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station.
Kellogg wants most of its rice grown by participants in the program, which officially is dubbed the Kellogg’s Certified Rice Grower program, Linscombe said.
"We have developed a functional, logical program that incorporates the significant sustainable improvements our producers have made in the past 20 years with potential improvements that can and will be made," Linscombe said.
The financial incentives offered by Kellogg for reaching the different levels are rewards for practicing the sustainable methods, he explained.
"Kellogg understands that for any program to be successful, it must be economically sustainable for farmers," Linscombe said.
He said the Louisiana Master Farmer program dovetails well with the Certified Rice Grower program.
A financial incentive is provided for rice sold to Kellogg, along with the distinction of being designated as a Master Rice Producer or Kellogg’s Certified Rice Grower.
Four levels – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – are attained by farmers who complete different stages of the program, including classroom sessions, farm practice documentation, field day attendance and writing/ implementing a conservation plan.
Kellogg representatives recognized the highest two levels of participants during the 2013 Rice Research Station Field Day. Platinum level farmers were Dwayne Compton, Rene Daboval, Shannon Daboval, Eric Unkel and Mark Zaunbrecher. Gold level participants were Ray Faulk, Michael Talley, Dale Thibodeaux, Randy Thibodeaux, Ross Thibodeaux, Steven Thibodeaux, Tommy Webb and Craig Zaunbrecher.
Dr. Ernest Girouard, Louisiana Master Farmer program coordinator, said several more participants have completed varying phases of the program, and he said a Kellogg’s Certified Rice Grower field day is being planned for the spring for farmers to complete the second phase of the program.
Girouard also said the Kellogg initiative is not the only one of its kind. "Other companies are developing sustainability programs, including Nestle," he said.
(This article was published in the 2014 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)