Future leaders of the rice industry from the Mid-South took a firsthand look at rice marketing, research and production during the second session of the 2003 Rice Leadership Development Program.

Rice producers Ralph Allen of Ruleville, Miss., Curtis Berry of Robinsonville, Miss., Dow Brantley of Lonoke, Ark., Fred Zaunbrecher of Duson, La., and Bill McNeil of England, Ark., are part of a VIP class that received an overview of rice marketing, research and production in Arkansas.

In the industry-related category, class members are Chris Crutchfield of Sacramento, Calif., and Brad Koen of DeWitt, Ark.

The weeklong session began in Wynne, Ark., where the class observed production practices as well as precision land leveling at the farm of alumni member John Cooper.

The class also attended personal development workshops on media communications, business etiquette and public speaking. “Learning about public speaking and how to work with members of the press are important skills that I learned through this program,” said Allen.

Discussions on world rice marketing, updates on the U.S. rice industry, and a parboil rice mill tour were the order of business while at Riceland Foods Inc., and Producers Rice Mill. David Gealy, a research plant physiologist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, and Chris Deren, director at the University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center, provided information on the latest advances in rice research in the Mid-South.

The class then traveled to Moline, Ill., where they met with executives at John Deere and observed combine manufacturing at the Harvester Works. “After meeting with top Deere executives and seeing the importance they place on this leadership program, I came away with a tremendous respect for an organization that is committed to a successful and profitable rice industry,” said Berry.

The session wrapped up in Chicago at the Chicago Board of Trade where the class observed rice trading on the floor and learned how to use the board as a marketing tool.

The leadership class will meet next in September 2004 in California to examine rice issues in that state. The final session will be held in February 2005 in Washington, D.C.

John Deere Co. and Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. sponsor the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation. The program is administered by the USA Rice Federation.

Elizabeth C. Ward

The USA Rice Federation has appointed Elizabeth C. Ward vice president of domestic and international promotion. Ward will direct all of USA Rice's market development programs and food aid activities. She will join USA Rice Aug. 25, moving from the American Forest & Paper Association, where she serves as executive director of Wood Products International.

“To continue to increase industry profitability, we must increase worldwide consumption of U.S. rice. Betsy Ward's knowledge and experience in developing global marketing strategies will help the federation move our program to the next level,” said Stuart E. Proctor Jr., USA Rice Federation president and CEO.

In addition to market development, Ward has extensive experience in international trade policy and coalition-building, as well as knowledge of legislative affairs and member relations, Proctor said.

At AF&PA, Ward led development of the prototype Unified Export Strategy for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. The UES, which requires global evaluation and industry input, is now the standard instrument for all U.S. agricultural cooperators seeking funding from FAS.

As executive director of WPI, Ward managed seven overseas offices and a $9 million annual FAS budget to conduct international marketing programs. She served as director of the association's global issues team and as chief advocate for the industry on key government advisory panels.

Ward holds a master's degree in international security affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in history/political science from the University of New Hampshire.

Ward will succeed John Mentis, who is leaving the USA Rice staff to go into private business.