A new report points to an eventful year for the California rice industry in 2019, with several ongoing conservation programs and significant developments occurring in various trade markets. The 2019 Annual Report from the California Rice Commission (CRC) that was recently released highlights some of the progress made in industry initiatives and points of emphasis moving forward.
“I would categorize 2019 as another busy year for our industry and for the rice commission, it seems every year gets a little busier but we’re happy to help our industry,” said Jim Morris, Communications Manager for the CRC. “We do work at the commission in four primary areas: conservation, regulation, legislation, and public education and there’s never a lack of projects to work on.”
There were several significant trade opportunities that emerged in 2019. The easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, combined with the progress made on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement will each benefit the rice industry. Increasing export opportunities also emerged through trade negotiations with Japan and South Korea. “It was largely a positive year for trade and it’s an area that we need to remain diligent in because there’s a lot of moving pieces,” Morris noted.
Similar to other California crops, the rice industry is also working on multiple avenues to help address water-related issues. The rice industry has been especially attentive to water quality concerns, through the Rice Pesticide Program to monitor water discharge in rice fields. CRC looks to continue engaging the industry on a variety of water concerns moving forward.
“This area is always challenging in California; we’re regulated at the state and federal levels. We’ve been active for example in the CV-SALTS program for a long time,” said Morris. “We expect that there will be a ten-year study in the near future that will understand the best ways to reduce impacts and address removing salt from the system.”
The CRC has also been closely involved with cooperating agencies in various conservation efforts, working with UC Davis and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, on projects such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and the Ricelands Salmon Habitat Project. CRC also worked to better engage the public on the value of the industry through refining the outreach approach and expanding audiences.