The strong link between the University of Arkansas and the state’s strong agriculture sector is a model for others, Gov. Mike Beebe said at the 2012 Arkansas Rice Expo.

Beebe was the keynote speaker of the event, held this year at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart. An estimated 1,100 people attended.

“Long before the rest of the economy embraced” the link between education and jobs, “the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, our agricultural experiment stations and our farmers -- our agricultural community -- recognized the significance, the importance in that interrelationship,” Beebe said. “That’s what this is all about.

“It’s illustrative to know that what has worked in terms of the cooperation between our institutions of higher education, particularly the University of Arkansas and agriculture in this state, is a model and a key in so many other segments, for so many other people to follow. If it worked for all of that time for the University of Arkansas and our agricultural business interests, the progress that has been sustained in Arkansas over my adulthood, would not have been possible.”

The 2012 Arkansas Rice Expo originated as the rice field day -- an annual event that showcased university research to rice and other crop producers -- has expanded into a day of educational booths and family’s activities. There were also seminars by the Division of Agriculture’s economists and policy analysts on the farm bill and the Arkansas Water Plan.

Also in 2012, the Arkansas Rice Expo went in a direction it has never been before: inside.

"With temperatures expected to rise to near 100, I think most people were glad we moved the event indoors," said Chuck Wilson, director of the Rice Research and Extension Center. "It was great to see so many of our neighbors from Stuttgart and all over the Delta. In addition to showcasing our rice research, the Rice Expo provided us a chance to introduce more people to all of what we do at the Division of Agriculture."

The expo included the traditional field tours, with air-conditioned buses shuttling attendees to the Rice Research and Extension Center.

The crowd also enjoyed a free lunch, prepared by Yoder Ruritan, which brought more than 1,000 pounds of catfish, plus trimmings.

For more information about rice production in Arkansas, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county Extension office.