Rice industry leaders recently participated in an extensive leadership session meeting with government, regulatory and rice industry officials during the fourth and final session of the two-year Rice Leadership Development Program.

The class met with various U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies for updates on domestic programs and international trade policy issues. The group also took part in Senate and House Agriculture Committee briefings, met with officials at the American Bankers Association to hear their perspective on the agricultural credit market, and participated in a discussion at the World Market Price Subcommittee meeting.

The class graduated during a special ceremony in conjunction with the USA Rice Federation’s 2010 Government Affairs Conference, held in Washington, D.C.

Rice Foundation Chairman Marvin Hare Jr. and USA Rice Chairman Jamie Warshaw presented graduation certificates and alumni pins to class members. Program participant and class spokesperson Buddy Allen thanked John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc., and American Commodity Company for sponsoring the program and for the opportunity to broaden the group’s leadership skills.

The Rice Leadership Development Program provides future leaders with a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communications skills. During a two-year period, seven class members selected from rice-producing states attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

Rice producer members are: Buddy Allen of Tunica, Miss.; Kirk Meines of Stuttgart, Ark.; Blake Gerard of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Dan Hosman of Jonesboro, Ark.; and Sean Doherty of Dunnigan, Cal. Industry-related members of the class are: Michael Fruge of Eunice, La., and Carrie Castille of Breaux Bridge, La.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and is administered by the USA Rice Federation.