Rice Expo celebrates food, farming and families
August 1, 2014
- More than 1,000 attend fourth annual Rice Expo
- Panelists assure producers decision aids being developed to navigate 2014 Farm Bill
- Expo showcases versatility of rice
STUTTGART, Ark. – For the first time, Arkansas’ rice production will represent more than half the nation’s output of the grain, attendees at the fourth Arkansas Rice Expo heard Friday.
“For the first time, Arkansas is expected to produce more than half the rice in America,” Keith Glover, president and chief executive officer of Producers Rice Mill told a crowd during a panel discussion on the 2014 Farm Bill.
About 1,000 people took part in a half-day of activities including tours of research plots, cooking demonstrations and rice tastings at the fourth annual Arkansas Rice Expo on Friday.
Among the attendees was Ethan Vasquez from Sikeston, Missouri. He came to Arkansas just to visit his first-ever Rice Expo.
“It’s a great day so far, very informational, the new things coming out of the pipeline as far as the chemistries and the new varieties into bringing to the table,” he said.
He heard about the Rice Expo from his counterpart in Arkansas and from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
He especially wanted to learn about new production technology and varieties of rice.
He intended to bring back the knowledge he learned at the Rice Expo to his growers in Missouri.
The 2014 Rice Expo, the fourth annual, is an outgrowth of a traditional field day, in which researchers showed crop producers the results of their work in the demonstration fields.
““Rice is a critical part of Arkansas’ $20 billion agriculture industry and the Rice Expo is a celebration, not only of that role, but also of Arkansas farms, food and families,” said Mark Cochran, head of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“The expo not only showcases the crop for which Arkansas is the top grower, but also the work that the faculty and staff of the Division of Agriculture is doing to help Arkansans from money management to farm production,” he said.
“I know absolutely nothing about raw crops and I’m kind of doing this to get the ground knowledge,” said Emily Kaufman, a daughter of livestock farmer from Morrilton.
"It's good to know that Arkansas is big in rice," she said about her first experience coming to the Rice Expo.
This is the second Rice Expo that a rice farmer, Doug Lancaster from Poinsett County, has attended.
“I want to see the new varieties and I’m interested in their new technology on pigweed control and soybeans,” he said.
During the panel discussion, Extension Economist Brad Watkins called the 2014 Farm Bill the most complex ever.
“What are we going to do with all these decisions and how are we going to make them?” Watkins said. “Fortunately, you’re going to have some help.”
Watkins said USDA had provided funds for the development of decision aids for help producers. One of the decision aids was being developed by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M jointly with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri and the other was being developed by the University of Illinois.
Tiffany Aaron of Cleburne County earned $200 for her winning entry in the Rice Expo Recipe Contest: Grilled Rice and Black Bean Burritos with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce.
“I don’t know if I like judging food like that just because everybody has worked so hard and everybody has put a lot of effort,” said Matt Bell, executive chef of South on Main restaurant in Little Rock.
“I definitely had my favorite,” he said. “I found more than what I was looking for. There was a huge variety and dessert in there was kind of a surprise.”
Lee Hogan, writer for Little Rock Soiree and Arkansasbusiness.com said he “was really excited to come today and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it. All the dishes that we got to taste you could tell they really spent a lot of time to put these together.”
“We had a good time, all the recipe were really unique and tasty,” said Emily Van Zandt, food writer for Sync and Arkansas Life Magazine. She said it wasn't easy to find the winning dishes.
“In the first round we can only judge the appearance so it was hard to not taste them,” Van Zandt said.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
All meetings and activities announced in this news release are open to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (large print, audiotapes, etc.) should notify the county Extension office as soon as possible prior to the activity.
By Kezia Nanda
Cooperative Extension Service
U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service