Neal Stoesser, Raywood, Texas, has been named the 2023 Rice Farmer of the Year at the 26th Annual National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference, Southern Precision Ag Conference, Southern Soybean & Corn Conference, and the Delta States Irrigation Conference.
Stoesser is a fourth-generation farmer, growing rice, soybeans, milo, and hay and raising cattle along the Texas gulf coast. He had the pleasure of growing up watching his father, the late Ray Stoesser, advocate for the rice industry and now proudly follow in his footsteps. Stoesser’s love of farming began very early in his life and at the age of 8 when he started actively helping his father’s farm by driving the cart and has not stopped since. He farmed his first solo crop at the age of 18 and now farms a minimum of 6,000 acres of rice per year. He has continuously adapted and innovated to meet the current demands of farming.
Stoesser serves as the Vice-Chair of the US Rice Producers Association (USRPA) and a board member of the Texas Rice Council. He also serves on the Texas Rice Research Foundation and the Liberty County Farm Bureau board and consults on different local agricultural advisory committees. He has participated in USRPA’s trade missions and reverse trade missions to increase rice exports in the U.S. He has traveled internationally to help promote high-quality U.S.-grown rice and has hosted international buyers at his farm and facilities to continue to grow rice export markets.
Stoesser is always looking into the future and the betterment of the rice industry. He became a founding member of the South Louisiana Rail Facility, a rail loading facility that was able to export directly to buyers in Mexico. The South Louisiana Rail Facility has now evolved into loading vessels in the Port of Lake Charles and continues to expand.
Stoesser and his family partnered with USRPA to create the Ray Stoesser Memorial Scholarship which offers a $5,000 scholarship each year to a deserving student who is interested in or is currently pursuing a career in an agriculture-related field.
Stoesser, continuing the long-established custom that has been passed on from one generation to another, is joined on his farming operation by his wife, Meredith, and two sons; Nate, age 13, and Wes, age 9. According to Stoesser, the rice industry feeds a bunch of the world, we are just trying to do our part to help.