Hard-working and dedicated, these are but a few of the American rice farmers who grow U.S. rice:
Nicole Van Vleck
Yuba City, California
Yuba City is home to Nicole Van Vleck, the Managing Partner of Montna Farms—a 128-year-old family farm with 2,500 acres of land dedicated to rice. In recent years, Montna Farms has developed a niche for growing premium Japonica-style short grain rice, primarily Koshihikari—a high-quality short grain table rice sold under the brand name Tamamishiki.
Montna Farms is recognized as an industry leader in conservation, working with such organizations as The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl and PRBO Conservation Science on habitat preservation. During the winter months when the rice fields are flooded, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and other species flock to the farm. As Nicole says, wildlife is their “winter crop.” Their land has been dedicated through agricultural easements to maintain its existence as a productive farm and to provide wildlife habitat.
Nicole, her husband, Stan, and her two children say sushi is their family’s favorite rice dish; they typically eat it at least once a week. According to Nicole, “U.S. farmers and ranchers are hardworking and dedicated to providing high quality food to their consumers.” She has a great deal of pride for the domestic agricultural industry and feels that it not only provides jobs in rural areas throughout the U.S. but also cultivates its role as stewards of the land. “We are proud that we provide an environment that maintains valuable resources and habitats,” she says.
Linda & L.G. Raun
El Campo, Texas
El Campo, a small town off Texas’ Gulf Coast, is home to rice farmers Linda and L.G. Raun. Rice has always been a part of their lives, with Linda’s great grandfather helping bring the rice industry to Texas and L.G.’s ancestors planting their first crop in 1915. Linda grew up eating rice as part of everyday meals, and throughout 35 years of marriage to L.G. the tradition hasn’t changed. The entire Raun family, including Linda’s brother-in-law and their nieces and nephews, grows 2,000 acres of long grain rice.
Texas is one of six states that grow the nation’s rice supply, producing predominantly long grain rice. The Raun’s also plant organic aromatic jasmine rice, which is marketed regionally under the Lowell Farms label. Linda has a love of the land and is proud to grow U.S. rice for its quality and healthfulness. Now, 100% U.S.-grown rice includes the USA Rice Federation “Grown in the USA” logo on packages. “If chefs or consumers choose any rice with this logo, they can be assured they are purchasing high-quality food that is grown with love and care by their neighbors in the USA,” Linda said.
Marvin Cochran grows 1,800 acres of long grain rice on the same Mississippi land on which his grandparents raised cotton in the 1960s. A third-generation farmer, Marvin looks forward to the challenges of each planting season and how wind, rain and temperature can affect his rice crop.
The long grain rice that Marvin grows is the most popular type of rice consumed by Americans. It has a slender kernel, cooks up fluffy and is commonly used in pilafs, salads, sides and casseroles.
Mississippi plants approximately 130,000 acres of rice as part of the 18 billion pounds of rice grown in the U.S. each year. U.S. farmers produce an abundance of short, medium and long grain rice, as well as organic and specialty rices including jasmine, basmati, arborio, red aromatic and black japonica, among others.
Marvin is a proud farmer who encourages consumers to buy domestically grown rice to support U.S. rice farmers and the economy. “I grow my rice in a safe environment with the conservation of natural resources in mind. Rice farming helps create jobs in local communities. Buying domestically grown rice also helps consumers reduce their food miles,” he said. Sustainable farming is important to Marvin, as he has two children whom he hopes will one day continue the family tradition of rice farming.
DeValls Bluff, Arkansas
Arkansas rice farmer Robert Petter begins each day routinely checking his machinery, including a large combine. Robert will spend most of his day cutting rice from the field and relying on his combine to separate the rice grain from the stalk before it’s loaded into trucks. The rice is then transported to a nearby rice mill to begin the milling process.
The 10,000 bushels of rice Robert harvests each day will become part of the 18 billion pounds of U.S.-grown rice produced by farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas each year. Thanks to this abundance, nearly 85% of the rice that is consumed in the U.S. is grown here. Arkansas is the leading rice-growing state, with approximately 1.2 million acres of mostly long grain brown and white rice farmed each year.
Four generations of the Petter family have been farming for nearly 100 years and grow over 800 acres of rice. After harvest Robert’s fields become wintering grounds for birds and waterfowl that feed on the rice left behind. Robert is proud of the rice he grows and the wide selection available, which can be identified by USA Rice Federation’s “Grown in the USA” logo. Robert notes that “consumers tell us that they have more confidence in home-grown agriculture because of our high production and quality standards. The logo makes it easy for chefs, operators and consumers to choose U.S.-grown rice. And it’s a great way to show support for U.S. farmers and our economy.”
Robert is a dedicated farmer who can’t imagine doing anything else. “I love being a rice farmer and seeing the results from the first seeds I plant in spring, to the late summer harvest and then enjoying our rice at the family table.”