Rice Generates $892 Million for Arkansas in '06

FEBRUARY 16, 2007 - Posted at 3:28 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Rice was the top crop in Arkansas in 2006, coming in with a value of $892 million.  But rice growers and other farmers appear to be preparing to plant more corn in 2007 to help meet demand generated by ethanol production.

Statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture show that soybeans were #2 in Arkansas, valued at $698 million, and cotton #3 at $600 million.

The Cooperative Extension Service says the rice industry was affected when traces of a genetically modified rice turned up.  The domestic market has rebounded but the export market is still feeling price pressure.

To ensure that future rice is not contaminated, the industry is working to secure the seed supply and ensure further contamination does not occur and farms and mills.

Including production of cottonseed, corn, wheat and grain sorghum, Arkansas farmers produced row crops worth $2.4 billion last year.  That's up 18 percent from a year ago.

Analysts say rice growers may switch some acreage to corn for 2007 because corn is commanding a higher price.  Likewise, some cotton growers are expected to make the switch because of low cotton prices.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)