The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has voted to fund the USA Rice Council from the Arkansas rice promotion checkoff again next year.

“Checkoff funds are earned based on program performance and financial accountability, and we know we have to earn them each and every year,” said USARC Vice Chairman Joe Mencer, a Lake Village, Ark., rice farmer.

USARC conducts rice promotion and market development programs in the United States and export markets. Arkansas funding is critical to the success of these programs, said Robert Petter, a Tollville, Ark., rice farmer and president of the Arkansas Rice Council.

“In the domestic market, we now have a ‘Grown in the USA’ rice-package logo to help consumers identify and choose U.S.-grown rice in the grocery store. We have record exports to Mexico, our top rough rice market and where USARC invests the most international promotion dollars. These are just two examples of the Arkansas rice-promotion checkoff at work,” Petter said.

The domestic promotion program includes activities targeted to the foodservice industry, retailers, consumers, nutrition communications, food processing, and research.

In 2008 an official, FDA-sanctioned whole-grain health claim for brown rice was secured. International programs promote all types and forms of U.S.-grown rice around the world.

The Arkansas Rice Council names representatives to the USARC board of directors, where Arkansas rice farmers hold 20 of 33 producer seats. Arkansas representatives also serve on USA Rice Federation domestic and international promotion committees.

“Arkansas rice farmers oversee rice promotion funds from allocation to promotion-program implementation,” Petter said. “It’s a strong system and one that gets results.”