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JAN 23

Rice Commission’s grower meeting focuses on changes in D.C.

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 7:33 pm | Updated: 9:53 pm, Thu Jan 19, 2017.

By Jake Abbott/

Northern California rice growers were told that the future of the industry looks promising under the new presidential administration at the California Rice Commission’s annual grower meeting in Yuba City and Colusa on Thursday.

The event saw six speakers touch on various topics including how the election of President Donald Trump might impact California’s agricultural sector and what is being done at the federal level in Washington, D.C., that might influence the industry.

Nicole Montna Van Vleck, president and CEO of Montna Farms, said she has been attending the annual event for about a decade.

“I think the CRC Grower Meeting is very valuable,” Van Vleck said. “The speakers covered a lot of relevant information for rice growers today. There is a lot going on right now in the industry.”

Tyson Redpath, senior vice president of The Russell Group in Washington, D.C., said the recent nomination of Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary for the Trump administration will benefit farmers across the country.

“(Perdue) is an excellent choice for the position,” Redpath said. “Leaders at both the state and federal level will need to make sure his voice permeates through the new administration.”

Redpath said 2017 will be a big year in terms of changes occurring throughout the industry, like the United States Department of Agriculture needing to readjust its philosophies and policies under the new administration, and how to best approach new farming legislation.

“The presentations were a high-level approach at giving everyone a look into the different state and federal regulations we face,” Van Vleck said.

“I think they did a great job covering a lot of complex issues in a short amount of time.”

Other topics discussed at the meeting include the different options for producers in terms of crop insurance, an update on what is happening in Northern California’s water world and the different programs in the works, and an in-depth explanation about the Agricultural Act of 2014 — aka the Farm Bill — and how to navigate the different programs associated with it.

Todd Manley, director of government relations for the Northern California Water Association, discussed how the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa and Glenn counties would have benefited the state, as well as farmers throughout California, this year with its storage capabilities — and the key issues that will play in 2017.

“We had a wet year last year, so I think everyone can expect full deliveries this year,” Manley said.

This year’s meeting was the first for Ryan Rogers, president of Lakeview Energy Services in Marysville. He said the event’s high level of attendance is a good indication that people in the region are interested in discussing and learning more about the rice industry.

“I think the most interesting part was about how the dynamics in the water world change on a year-to-year basis and how the challenges of handling fish can really swing the discussion,” Rogers said. “Also, I think they did a good job highlighting Sites Reservoir and how it’s a great opportunity.”

Pleasant Grove rice farmer Matt Lauppe said attending the meeting every year keeps him updated on the industry.

“It’s all really good information to have as a farmer,” Lauppe said. “Some of the information was repeated from the prior year’s meeting, but good to know.”

Other keynote speakers included Louie Brown, partner at Kahn, Soares & Conway; Richard Neves, owner of Gig7 Crop Insurance; Tim Kelleher, attorney with Rice Lawyers Inc. in Yuba City; and Tim Johnson, president and CEO of CRC.