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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

November 4, 2013

Rice Research To Continue At Lower Level

The Louisiana Rice Research Board reviewed a number of proposals from LSU AgCenter scientists and has agreed to provide $1.29 million for next year's projects to help Louisiana rice farmers. Research projects totaling $1.67 million had been requested by the LSU AgCenter, but the board decided to fund existing projects at 10 percent less than the 2013 total and to fund only two new projects. This money came from funds generated by an annual checkoff program in existence for more than 40 years. Projects supported with this funding have resulted in the development of new varieties, improved production practices, pest management strategies, and marketing information. "The success of the Louisiana rice industry is directly related to the efforts of those scientists who have been supported with these checkoff funds by the stakeholders for many years," said Rogers Leonard, associate vice chancellor and program leader for plant and soil sciences with the LSU AgCenter. Recently, some of the statutes that dictate the conduct of the rice checkoff process have been ruled unconstitutional as the result of litigation by a small group of farmers. Under the long-standing process, farmers had been paying 5 cents for every 100 pounds of rice they sold to fund research, and 3 cents for promotion. Now the board is appealing to farmers to continue paying the assessments under a voluntary program. Board members said they are confident that most farmers will continue to pay the assessments that will be tax deductible. "I think the support is there in the countryside," said board member Richard Fontenot, an Evangeline Parish farmer. "The conservative nature of this board may help keep this station operating," Leonard said. "These funds are critically important to maintaining the intensive operations that are involved in rice research." Leonard also said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, has agreed to dedicate additional intellectual property funds to support Louisiana rice research, with the members of the Rice Research Board serving on an advisory committee to provide input on how the funds should be spent. These funds are generated from royalties on the sale of Clearfield rice, a technology developed by scientists at the Rice Research Station.

LSU/China Wetlands Joint Research

A delegation of Chinese educators and researchers attended the signing of a Letter of Intent recently in Baton Rouge to collaborate with LSU and LSU AgCenter scientists. The agreement was signed by LSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Stuart Bell, LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson and Director General of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Northeast Institute of Geography and Agro-ecology (NEIGAE) Xingyuan He. LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Lawrence Datnoff, who is the interim director of LSU AgCenter International Programs, said the signing date was scheduled during the International Forum on Wetland Ecosystem Functions and Services hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Northeast Institute of Geography and Agro-ecology in Changchun, China, from July 28 - August 3.The purpose of the agreement is to formalize the collaboration and to strengthen the exchange of resources and talent, Datnoff said. Richardson said the agreement will allow for a vital exchange of wetlands information. "It actually provides a chance to utilize some research activity the NEIGAE center is doing, and it has long-range potential for us," Richardson said. "It's an information and technology swap - getting students and faculty up to speed on some things that will benefit all." Aixin Hou, associate professor in the LSU School of the Coast and Environment, said a separate agreement has been signed with the Wetlands Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey in Lafayette.

Louisiana FFA Chapter Recognized

A Louisiana high school FFA chapter was recognized last week at the national FFA convention in Indianapolis as one of four high school chapters "...for creative initiatives that encourage members to grow as individuals, work as a team and serve others." St. Amant FFA received a Model of innovation award for a student focused campaign as members promoted healthy living by offering healthy snacks at FFA events. FFA members selected and created their own healthy snack bowls as part of a Bowl for Better Living event where a local fitness trainer and past FFA members gave a 30-minute presentation on the importance of healthy living and taught attendees stretching exercises.

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