Following rough year, farmers meet to discuss future of rice industry

Following rough year, farmers meet to discuss future of rice industry

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Rice farming is big for Arkansas' economy and the lives of many Region 8 families. Arkansas ranks first among the 6 major rice-producing states in the country.

This last year was a tough year for the rice industry, but the annual Arkansas Rice Meeting was all about leaving 2014 in the past.

The Arkansas Rice Council invited the public, area rice farmers, and vendors to the Arkansas State University Convocation Center to learn more about the future of their industry.

U.S Representative Rick Crawford and Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, were just 2 who speak to the group.

Several Region 8 Future Farmers of America chapters were also at the event to volunteer and learn more about agriculture.

Dow Brantley, farmer and chairman of the Arkansas Rice Federation, said it is an opportunity to discuss the highs and lows of the last year.

"Arkansas agriculture is struggling," Brantley said. "We had a very bad year last year. The yields were off somewhat and prices were extremely low. So I hope we can take away a little optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Breakout sessions for the event included an explanation of the farm bill, water quality and quantity, and the role women play in the rice industry.

Brantley said they use this meeting for an opportunity to thank Northeast Arkansas for their continued work and all those who contribute to the rice industry.

The rice industry employs more than 25,000 Arkansans.

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