US Rice Producers Association ha nombrado a Marcela Garcia como nueva CEO

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19 de Julio 2021

CONTACTO: Alex Clark | Veronica Galvan
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Katy, Texas (19 de julio, 2021) – En una reunión reciente en The Woodlands, Texas, la junta directiva de US Rice Producers Association (USRPA por sus siglas en Ingles) seleccionó a Marcela García para que se desempeñe como la nueva presidenta & CEO de USRPA, en reemplazo de Dwight Roberts, quien dejará el cargo a partir del 1 de agosto de 2021. Durante los últimos 5 años, García ha ocupado el cargo de directora de operaciones y directora de la exitosa Convención de Mercado y Tecnología Arrocera durante 10 años.

Marcela Garcia, President & CEO of US Rice Producers Association
Marcela Garcia, President & CEO of US Rice Producers Association

Graduada de la Universidad de Houston con una licenciatura en administración de empresas y un menor en marketing, emprendimiento y español, García es originaria del sur de Texas, donde su familia se dedica a la ganadería y la agricultura. “Hace varios años, Marcela asumió varios roles de liderazgo para la USRPA y su amplio conocimiento y las relaciones comerciales del arroz en todo el hemisferio occidental servirán a nuestros productores de arroz extremadamente bien,” dijo el CEO saliente, Dwight Roberts, que también agregó, “tenemos talento joven, los agricultores que ingresan a nuestra junta directiva y nuestra nueva generación de talentos del personal están listos para liderar la USRPA hacia el futuro.” Después de 23 años al frente de la USRPA, Dwight Roberts se desempeñará como asesor de la organización a partir del 1 de agosto.

La junta directiva de USRPA también eligió nuevos funcionarios para 2021-2023. Felicitaciones a Alex Clark de Poplar Bluff, Missouri por ser elegido nuevo presidente. El productor de arroz del este de Texas, en Dayton, Neal Stoesser, será el vicepresidente y Dustin Watkins, que cultiva cerca de Welsh, Luisiana, es el nuevo secretario-tesorero. La junta agradeció al Dr. Thomas Wynn de Egypt, Texas por su servicio a la asociación durante los últimos dos años, que vieron a los agricultores lidiando no solo con condiciones climáticas extremas sino también con una pandemia mundial.

US Rice Producers Association, que representa a los productores de arroz en Arkansas, California, Luisiana, Mississippi, Missouri y Texas, es la única organización nacional de productores de arroz compuesta por productores, elegidos por los productores y que representan a los productores en los seis estados productores de arroz de los Estados Unidos.

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US Rice Producers Association Selects New Leadership

Welcomes New CEO, Marcela Garcia

Katy, Texas (July 19, 2021) – At a recent meeting in The Woodlands, the Board of Directors of the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) selected Marcela Garcia to serve as the new President & CEO, replacing Dwight Roberts who is stepping down effective August 1, 2021.  For the past 5 years, Garcia has held the position of Chief Operating Officer and the Director of the highly successful Rice Market & Technology Convention for 10 years.

Marcela Garcia, President & CEO of US Rice Producers Association
Marcela Garcia, President & CEO of US Rice Producers Association

A graduate of the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Spanish, Garcia is originally from South Texas where her family is involved in cattle and farming.  “Several years ago, Marcela assumed a number of leadership roles for the USRPA, and her extensive knowledge and rice trade relationships throughout the Western Hemisphere will serve our rice farmers extremely well,” said out-going CEO, Dwight Roberts, while adding, “we have young, talented rice farmers coming onto our board of directors with our new generation of staff talent, USRPA is ready to lean into the future.”  After 23 years at the helm of the USRPA, Dwight Roberts will serve in an advisory role for the organization, beginning August 1st.

The USRPA board also elected new officers for 2021-2023.  Congratulations to Alex Clark from Poplar Bluff, Missouri for being elected as the new Chairman.  East Texas rice farmer, Neal Stoesser from Dayton, Texas, will serve as Vice-Chairman and Dustin Watkins who farms near Welsh, Louisiana is the new Secretary-Treasurer.  The board thanked Dr. Thomas Wynn from Egypt, Texas for his service to the association during the past two years which saw farmers dealing not only with weather extremes but a global pandemic as well.

The US Rice Producers Association, representing rice producers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas, is the only national rice producers’ organization comprised of producers, elected by producers, and representing producers in all six rice-producing states.

Chlapecka Selected as Missouri Rice Extension Specialist

PORTAGEVILLE, Missouri (July 15, 2021)

Dr. Justin Chlapecka has been named Rice Extension Specialist and Assistant Research Professor with the University of Missouri, effective August 1.

In this new partnership between the University of Missouri and the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council, Chlapecka will lead rice agronomy research efforts, conducting research at both the Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, as well as the Missouri Rice Research and Demonstration Farm near Malden.

“The MRRMC has partnered with the Fisher Delta Research Center for many years, and we’re excited to continue this collaboration in a new capacity,” David Martin, Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council, said. “Justin’s expertise will undoubtedly strengthen the Missouri rice market.”

Chlapecka holds a doctorate in Crop Soil and Environmental Science from the University of Arkansas, where his research focused on rice agronomy.

“I feel very blessed to be led into the opportunity of serving the Missouri rice industry in what will undoubtedly be a mutually beneficial relationship,” Chlapecka said. “Through the partnership of the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council and MU, I am very excited to take my experience with the University of Arkansas and build on that here in Missouri for years to come.”

For more information on the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council, visit www.missouririce.com.

Washington DC Update

President Biden issued an Executive Order on July 9, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy”.  The order specified 72 actions and initiatives by numerous federal agencies aimed at promoting competition and addressing problems identified by the White House.  The order touches numerous aspects of the economy – from banking to transportation to agriculture.  An Executive Order cannot change or override existing statute, but they are often used to give direction to federal agencies in exercising discretion that they have under the law.   For these reasons, the order often “encourages” agencies to take an action or directs them to develop plans for further action.   The White House fact sheet on the order is linked here and a the executive order is linked here.  The order directs all federal agencies to use spending and procurement authorities to create more opportunities for small businesses. The US Government spends about $600B a year procuring goods.

Specifically related to agriculture, the order directs USDA to curb unfair or deceptive business practices and advantages through vigorous enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. These measures include clearly defining a violation of the Act, maintaining that it is unnecessary to “demonstrate industry-wide harm to establish a violation of the Act,” prohibiting grower ranking systems, and adopting anti-retaliation protections. USDA is directed to enhance consumer transparency by clarifying which meat products qualify for the “Product of USA” label. Three reports must also be submitted to the White House Competition Council: 1) outlining steps to support “value-added agriculture and alternative food distribution systems” via model contracts and improved transparency and labeling; 2) examining the effects of retailer consolidation on competition and how funding could improve access to local/regional food markets; and 3) enumerating USDA’s concerns with how the intellectual property system enables anti-competitive behavior by seed/input producers.  As discussed under the Federal Trade Commission, the order encourages the FTC to limit equipment manufacturers’ ability to restrict the use of independent shops or do-it-yourself repairs – often referred to as “Right to Repair.”

For additional background on the order, generally:

Policy Rationale 

Legal Basis for EO 

This section points to the relevant statutes and legislative intent that undergird the order’s rationale for renewed antitrust enforcement. It also identifies the tools at federal agencies’ disposal for protecting fair competition: policing unfair business practices, conducting oversight of mergers & acquisitions, issuing rules promoting new market entrants, and enhancing transparency.  

Interagency Cooperation 

The order encourages agencies to collaborate in policing anticompetitive behavior and reviewing mergers should there be overlapping jurisdictions. Suggested avenues for collaboration include coordinating antitrust investigations, sharing relevant information, and requesting input from the Attorney General or FTC Chair. 

White House Competition Council 

This section establishes a White House Competition Council within the EOP charged with coordinating USG efforts to address “overconcentration, monopolization, and unfair competition.” The Council will be led by the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and chaired by the Director of the National Economic Council (Brian Deese). Standing members consist of mostly cabinet secretaries with the heads of independent agencies (FTC, FCC, CFPB, etc.) invited at the Chair’s discretion. 

Financial Services 

The order encourages the DOJ, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Comptroller of the Currency to update merger oversight guidelines under the Bank Merger Act and Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. 

Worker’s Rights 

The order encourages the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue rules prohibiting non-compete clauses or other agreements that would limit workers’ mobility. 

FTC Rulemaking Authority (Data Privacy, Agriculture, Wireless Providers, Healthcare) 

The order encourages the FTC to consider updating rules that would limit data collection and surveillance practices, permit the “right-to-repair,” and prohibit delayed entry of generic drugs. 

 Beer, Wine, and Spirits 

The order directs the Treasury Department to submit a report detailing any unlawful trade practices, consolidation trends, and unnecessary regulations such as bottle sizes, permitting, or labeling that hinder competition. The Treasury is directed to consider new rules to update how the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau conducts oversight and to reduce barriers for smaller market participants. 

FCC (Telecommunications) 

The order encourages the FCC to: 

DOT (Airlines, Railroads, Shipping) 

The order directs DOT to appoint members of the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, publish a proposed rule requiring airlines to refund baggage fees for significantly delayed flights, and consider a rule requiring clear disclosure of baggage/change/cancellation fees upon purchase of a ticket. Further, the Surface Transportation Board is directed to strengthen regulations concerning reciprocal switching agreements and ensure that passenger rail rights-of-way are respected. The Federal Maritime Commission is encouraged to prevent shipping companies from imposing excessive “detention and demurrage” charges on American exporters. 

HHS (Healthcare) 

HHS is directed to consider issuing a proposed rule permitting over-the-counter hearing-aids, promote price transparency initiatives in accordance with the No Surprises Act, and provide standardized plan options in the national Health Insurance Marketplace. HHS must also submit a plan to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging within 45 days, streamline the approval process for generic drugs, and collaborate with states and tribes to import prescription drugs from Canada. 

Department of Commerce (Healthcare, Big Tech) 

The order directs the Department of Commerce to consider not finalizing new provisions on “march-in rights and product pricing” that would preclude the agency from using march-in rights to possibly lower drug prices. Moreover, Commerce is directed to submit a report detailing recommendations for improving competition and user benefit in the mobile application ecosystem. 

Defense 

The order directs DOD to consider antitrust laws and corporate consolidation when assessing the economic forces influencing the “national security innovation base.” Further, it directs DOD to submit two reports to the White House Competition Council: 1) assessing competition in the defense industrial base and where it may be lacking and 2) outlining a plan for avoiding contract terms that complicate DOD’s ability to repair equipment in the field. 

Financial Services 

The order encourages the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to consider a rulemaking permitting consumer financial data portability to ease the cost of switching banks. 

Department of the Treasury (Worker’s Rights, Financial Services) 

The order directs Treasury to submit two reports: 1) addressing how labor markets are affected by the absence of competition and 2) competition’s impact on Big Tech’s foray into consumer finance. 

Ralston Family Farms is America's Rice

Nestled in the beautiful Arkansas River Valley, some 65 miles northwest of Little Rock, is a rice farm far away from the beaten path of the traditional Arkansas Delta rice-farming region. A multi-generational family farm, Tim and Robin Ralston are carving their place in America’s rice industry as they grow, harvest and mill both traditional and aromatic varieties. Rice at Ralston Family Farms is a quality consumer product, not a commodity as evidenced by their successful marketing efforts to numerous retailers and supermarkets. These efforts are due to their mission: to provide the best tasting and highest quality rice available through sustainable farming practices that improve the land while giving back to help end the fight against food security across the United States.

A growing preference among consumers is Ralston’s system to grow sustainably for future generations and be good stewards of the land, a practice that has always been important to the family. Ralston Family Farms not only produces their own seed, farms, harvests, and mills their rice, they also brand it in patented, recyclable packaging with an easy pour spout. The revolutionary, eco-friendly packaging is completely unique to the market.

Ralston Family Farms' unique patented packaging give these specialty rice varieties an attractive appearance.
Unique patented packaging give these specialty rice varieties an attractive appearance.

Earlier this month Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the US Rice Producers Association visited Ralston Family Farms located just south of the town Atkins on the Arkansas River. 

“I have visited rice farms and milling operations in numerous countries around the world but I don’t believe I have ever seen anything as unique as Ralston Family Farms and their attention to so many details,” Dwight said. “This is a real model for the future and I sincerely congratulate the Ralstons on their success through very hard work." 

Visit www.ralstonfamilyfarms.com to learn more about the varieties and the uniqueness of Ralston Family Farms.

Pictured left to right: Dwight Roberts, enjoys his visit with Robin and Tim Ralston.
Dwight Roberts enjoys his visit with Tim & Robin Ralston.

Washington DC Update

This week on Tuesday, June 15, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies held a hearing to discuss the F.Y. 2022 budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Testimony from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack focused on ways in which USDA can address climate change and severe weather events, highlighted agriculture research and relief initiatives, and outlined a number of efforts to fight food and nutrient insecurity, water and air contamination, and cyber-attacks.  For more detailed information a memo is attached.

Mollie Buckler Joins US Rice Producers Association

US Rice Producers Association is proud to welcome Mollie Landers Buckler as the new Coordinator for Delta Producer Relations effective June 7th.

A native of the Missouri Bootheel, Mollie’s agricultural roots run deep on both sides of her family including rice production. With a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, she will focus her efforts on representing the interests of rice farmers from throughout the delta while based in Southeast Missouri.

“We are excited to bring Mollie on board and therefore strengthen our rice promotional, marketing and farmer relation efforts in the delta” according to Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the USRPA while adding “she has the skills, approach and energy that our rice farmers will appreciate.”

Mollie’s past experience includes important relationship building as the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at the University of Missouri, a role that covers a wide variety of constituents including legislators and partners of the Missouri Extension Service. Her skills of event planning and coordination for a variety of events combine well with her ties in agriculture.

USPRA Social Media Campaign in China Kicks Off

The first post of U.S. rice on China’s top social media networks, WeChat and Weibo, went live last week. Social media platforms Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and WeChat, with almost a billion monthly users, have become China’s top social media platforms. Implemented with USDA/FAS ATP program funding, USRPA manages official accounts on both platforms, allowing the U.S. rice industry to target China’s masses in a cost-effective manner, with the potential to achieve exposures in the millions. The account name is created with a catchy phrase in Chinese which literally means “Beautiful life originated from USA,” as the word "rice" is pronounced very similarly to “beautiful/good” in Mandarin. 

Bi-weekly posts will continue for the rest of the year, which will entail key product characteristics, such as U.S. rice growing cycles, farming practices, health benefits, and applications as well as recipes to engage with potential consumers across China.

Washington DC Update

Waters of the U.S.

On June 9, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army (the agencies) will be announced their intent to establish a new definition of “waters of the United States.” The agencies are seeking to better protect vital water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. In addition, the Department of Justice is filing a motion requesting a remand of the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) in the District Court of Massachusetts today.

 Executive Order 13990 on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” directs EPA and the Army to review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to revise or replace the NWPR defining “waters of the United States.” EPA and the Army have completed this review and determined that they have concerns with the NWPR, including that it is causing significant, ongoing, and irreversible environmental damage.

The agencies’ new regulatory effort will be guided by:

The agencies intend to pursue a new rulemaking process to replace the NWPR with a durable definition of “waters of the United States.”In the interim, the NWPR is still in effect across the country. Further details of the agencies’ plans, including opportunities for public participation, will be conveyed in a forthcoming action later this summer.

For more information about the definition of “waters of the United States,” visit https://www.epa.gov/wotus. Please contact CWAwotus@epa.gov with any questions.

This information is provided by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding their intention to revise the definition of Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule issued in 2020.

 It is not clear what changes to the current rule the agencies will be proposing. A new rulemaking process is intended. This announcement is associated with the agencies requesting courts that are currently confronting various legal challenges to the 2020 rule to remand the rule to the agencies for revision.

 EU AG DOMESTIC SUPPORT--OVERVIEW AND COMPARISON TO US

This week the Congressional Research Service issued the following report: EU Agricultural Domestic Support: Overview and Comparison with the United States.

The Report highlights several policy trends that have emerged in the EU and the United States, including the following:

Traditionally, the United States uses less overall trade-distorting support (OTDS) than the EU, although the EU has made substantial reductions in the volume of OTDS. Since 2011, OTDS outlays (as notified to the World Trade Organization [WTO]) for the EU and United States have been near parity.

In both the EU and the United States, support for less-distorting noncommodity-type programs (e.g., conservation, rural development, agroforestry, nutrition, and climate) has increased substantially.

When measured by producer subsidy equivalent (PSE) as a share of total gross farm receipts, support has been trending lower for both the EU and the United States.  As of 2019, the EU’s share (19%) remained above the U.S. share (12%).

U.S. consumers have received net benefits from agriculture-based support programs (including domestic food aid), whereas EU consumers generally have transferred more support to agricultural producers than they have received in offsetting benefits—that is, the EU’s consumer subsidy estimate (CSE) is negative— although the net transfer has been declining over time as a share of gross farm receipts.

The report is intended to provide information to policy makers because the United States and the EU figure prominently in the development and use of global agricultural policy.  Information comparing their farm support programs may be of interest to Congress as the United States considers reauthorization of the domestic farm bill by 2023 and engages in international trade negotiations.

Washington DC Update - 2022 Funding Overview

President Joe Biden released his full budget request for fiscal 2022 which includes details on plans to ramp up spending at the Agriculture Department for climate research and agricultural adaptation. Under the current law, the 2022 request for discretionary budget authority to fund programs and operating expenses is $29.9 billion, almost 9 percent increase or $2.6 billion above the 2021 enacted level. Of the $2.6 billion increase, 54 percent, or $1.4 billion, are program increases and 46 percent, or $1.2 billion, is an elimination of the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) rescission. This request also includes funding for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Rural Development, Forest Service, food safety, research, and conservation programs.

The overall budget includes both the Administration's annual spending requests for departments and agencies as well as the sweeping, longer-term proposals under his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan to address climate change, build roads and other infrastructure and reduce economic inequality. The $29.9 billion in budget authority that Biden is requesting for FY22 at USDA includes $914 million earmarked for climate research and resilience programs as well as clean energy. The administration proposes no cuts in farm programs, including the crop insurance program, and is requesting funding to support an estimated $10.4 billion for farm loans to an estimated 52,000 farmers, Funding for mandatory programs is estimated to be $168.1 billion, a $20 billion decrease from 2021 enacted levels.  

USDA's $29.9 billion budget request, which would be a 9% increase over fiscal 2021, is for discretionary spending programs that are subject to annual appropriations by Congress. USDA’s total estimated budget for FY22 is $198 billion, which includes the cost of farm programs, nutrition assistance and other mandatory spending programs where the cost is set by law or depends on program eligibility. Compared to FY 2021, this amount represents a decrease of almost $17.4 billion. The budget assumes a pay cost increase of 2.7 percent and includes an increase of $200 million across the Department to cover the pay and benefit increases. and the budget would fully fund USDA's network of county offices.

The 2022 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Of note, there is no mention in the budget of using the Commodity Credit Corp. for climate-related spending, such as a carbon bank. Total CCC spending for FY22 is estimated at $10.3 billion, far below the CCC $30 billion in spending authority. Proposals to use the CCC to support carbon markets has run into intense Republican opposition.

Climate-related spending increases in the budget include funding such as:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service's budget for conservation technical assistance would increase by $43 million to $774 million to support the administration's emphasis on helping producers implement climate-friendly farming practices.

Funding for USDA’s climate hubs, multi-agency regional centers that provide advice and analysis on climate adaptation, would increase by $3 million to $23 million in FY22.

The Agricultural Research Service’s budget authority would increase from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion in FY22, with increases of $99 million for clean energy and $92 million for climate science.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which funds extramural research at land-grant universities and other institutions, would see its budget authority increase from $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion. Some $91 million would be earmarked for climate research.

The Economic Research Service’s budget would increase from $85 million to $91 million in FY22, allowing for a $4 million increase in climate research.

To review the USDA budget proposal here.