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For Keith Davis, who produces wild rice for Uncle Ben’s, as well as commodity rice, on K&S Farming around Yuba City, Calif., the lack of progress on a farm bill is putting a lot of pressure on young farmers. "I don’t know how they’re going to cope with it. And with the new banking regulations, there’s not nearly as much leeway as there was when farming got bad in the 1980s, which is when I got started."
Mark Wimpy, who farms rice, soybeans, wheat and corn on W&W Farms, around Jonesboro, Ark., believes he avoided problems with poor milling yield by planting early this year. “If I would’ve been two weeks later on planting, I would’ve had some milling issues like some of my neighbors did,” said Wimpy who plants mostly Clearfield varieties, “and a little bit of Jupiter and Roy J.”
Wimpy says the rice industry’s biggest challenge “is exporting our product. U.S. rice has always been thought of as the premier rice in the world. But the weather has thrown a few things at us the last few years. Our milling has been down. Customers are looking elsewhere.”
Wimpy believes that variety selection is a part of the milling problem. “Our varieties may not be as tough as they used to be. We’ve gone for maximum yield without putting in the good cooking qualities. I think we need to take a step back and take a new look at that. We need to produce a crop that the consumer wants to buy.”
Next year, Wimpy will expand his corn acres slightly. “But I have a rice farm. I have a limited amount of acreage that I can grow corn on, and I‘m going to grow it on those acres. My rice production will be down a little bit.”