Responding to growing interest in the issue of agricultural sustainability, the USA Rice Federation board of directors has established the USA Rice Federation Sustainability Task Force.

The mission of the task force is to guide the development of a sustainability statement and program that can serve the rice industry’s interests in farm policy and domestic and international rice marketing by:

• capitalizing on existing initiatives and programs that encourage sustainable agricultural production.

• developing programs and incentives in future farm policy to reward sustainable production methods and the benefits they may provide to the environment, the public and the economy.

• developing a comprehensive statement to show customers and others that rice is grown sustainably.

• creating a pro-sustainability profile to differentiate U.S.-grown rice from rice produced in other countries.

“The U.S. rice industry has a long history of protecting its natural resources and ecosystems,” USA Rice Federation Chairman Jamie Warshaw said. “With the creation of the Sustainability Task Force, the industry now has the means to advance these principles and practices, and to communicate the industry’s commitment to sustainably produced rice to policy-makers, consumers and customers,” Warshaw said.

Jennifer James, a rice producer from Newport, Ark., will serve as chair of the Sustainability Task Force, whose members include rice producers Daniel Berglund, Texas; Don Bransford and Leo LaGrande, Calif.; John Owen and Jeff Durand, La; Ray Vester, Ark; and Marvin Cochran, Miss.; as well as Bill Reed, Riceland Foods; Mark Denman, RiceTec, Inc.; John Hasbrook, SunWest Milling Company, Inc.; Philip de Bruyn, Mars Food USA; Keith Glover, Producers Rice Mill; and Glenn Nevins, Anheuser-Busch.

The task force includes an advisory group of academic and industry members who will provide technical assistance and guidance. Members of the advisory group are rice researchers Mo Way, Texas A & M University; Terry Siebenmorgan, University of Arkansas; Steve Linscombe, Louisiana State University; Kent Mckenzie, University of California at Davis; and Tim Walker, Mississippi State University.

California Rice Commission staff members Tim Johnson, president and CEO, and Paul Buttner, environmental affairs manager, complete the advisory group.