Speakers presented everything from legislation changes and Farm Bill updates to the market outlook for 2013 and rice production reports.
The meeting started with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Randy Knight and the MFBF Director of Public Policy Samantha Newman discussing how the 2013 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature affects the growers in Bolivar County.
Harvest permits, which were up for expiration this year and allow farmers to carry an additional 4,000 pounds during harvest season, was extended another four years.
Interagency Council on Farm to School was created and it hopes to form a curriculum for children to teach them what agriculture is and where their food comes from.
The Farm Bureau was also able to secure a slight raise in funding for Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture.
Vice President for Government Affairs for the USA Rice Federation Reece Langley then discussed the Farm Bills from the House and Senate and how the two bills differed.
The Farm Bill in the House did not pass the first vote, the nutrition title was deleted and the Farm Bill was passed.
The Senate and House can now negotiate the Farm Bill.
The Delta Coordinator of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Sam Mabry presented information from the Delta Sustainable Water Task Force on the voluntary water meter program that could replace the mandatory program.
“The key facts,” Mabry said, is “that if five percent of the wells in each county in the Delta have meters on them by June 30, 2014 and 10 percent by December 31, 2015, the mandatory program will not go into effect at that time.”
To participate in the voluntary program, contact Yazoo Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management or visit their website to receive a form to indicate specifics about the flow-meters that will be installed.
The chairman of the Mississippi Rice Promotion Board Gibb Steele briefly talked about the recent collaboration between USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited.
After, according to Steele, Ducks Unlimited over reached by trying to take money out of direct payments in the 2002 Farm Bill, many people stopped supporting Ducks Unlimited.
“It took the DU about 10 years to realize that 50 percent of the ducks in the California flyaway and our flyway, winter in rice fields,” Steele said. “If they don’t have rice, they’re not going to have ducks. They have a good motto, ‘If it’s good for rice, it’s good for ducks.’ I think they’ve done a 180-degree turn…we might ought to consider supporting DU because I think we could get some help out of them.”
John Oakes with the Farmers Grain Terminal then discussed the rice market outlook for 2013.
He said the crop acreage has decreased this year but hopes to still have the high prices and export percentage from 2012.
The actual rice planted was eight percent down from the projected planting hopes earlier this year.
The supply and demand has also dropped some from last year due to slow planting start this season and export projections lowering.
Oakes said he was concerned about the high production of rice in Asian countries and fears losing some markets.
He is also concerned about the large variety of rice that is grown and the fact that it is difficult to separate them.
“The biggest concern I have,” Oakes said, “is if South Americans ramp up their acres here late in 2013 for their 2014 crop.”
This could cause an oversupply and prices would drop.
Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce-Bureau of Plant Industry Director John Campbell discussed some national and Delta issues.
One problem he discussed is the problem with insecticides and pollen carries like bees.
Mississippi has had a good relationship between the two but other states have not, which could affect the Delta after policies are written for those areas.
Another issue that was discussed was herbicide drift, which has damaged around 2,200 to 2,400 acres of crops.
Dr. Tim Walker from Mississippi State University gave a rice production report to close out the meeting.
He estimated that there are 110,000 to 12,000 acres of rice in Mississippi.
He also emphasized on the quality of rice, the large number of different types of rice grown in Mississippi, and how they can have poor returns in export market.
Some of the production challenges that Walker said rice growers are facing this year are the cold, wet spring which caused a slow start to planting, the off-target herbicide drift, grass in the crops, insects like stink bugs, and rice grain quality.
Walker also said that the bulk of the rice crop would be harvested in September, which is good because the rice will not be maturing in the extreme heat making better quality rice.
Although there was a slow start to rice growing this year, the harvest and quality of the rice still look promising.