Cochran, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Hawks, a farmer and former Mississippi State senator before he joined USDA as undersecretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs, are expected to discuss trade and rice marketing issues.

More than 650 participants from across the rice producing regions are expected to attend, and dozens of exhibitors are lined up for the trade show, which will be held at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Biloxi.

Conference organizers say registrations are still being accepted for the meeting, which officially opens with a reception on Sunday evening and will adjourn at noon on Dec. 9.

While the room block is full, rooms are still available at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Call 1-888-383-7037 for reservations and ask for the special USA Rice rate of $85 for Dec. 7-9 and $105 for Dec. 5-6. If you have problems securing a hotel room, contact Jeanette Davis with the USA Rice Federation at jdavis@usarice.com.