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Wisconsin Agriculturist

New rice system has hurdles to clear

I am writing what will be my last Delta Farm Press article as an employee of the University of Arkansas. However as long as you are reading them, I plan to continue writing just as I have. There is a lot of uncertainty in agriculture right now. I do not know of any sector in agriculture that is immune from it. A lot of good people continue to lose jobs in industry. I am sure a lot of farmers are uncertain what they will be doing next year as well. I just hope that in some small way, I can continue to help farmers.

One area of uncertainty is the availability of the Clearfield rice technology for next year. I have been talking it up in my articles like it would be here. Perhaps that is just because I am an optimist.

The holdup with Clearfield rice since last year has been a lack of registration of the Clearfield rice varieties or trademarks in Canada. The first thing people say is, “I did not know they grew rice in Canada.” Obviously they do not, but they apparently consume some of ours.

Canada has a novel food law that requires trademarked crop varieties to go through a special registration process. As I understand, it was created primarily for GMO crops. Clearfield rice is not a GMO crop. It was developed through mutation breeding techniques. Mutation breeding has been in use for variety development for many years.

However, the extreme sensitivity over the GMO issue and some things that have happened in the past have caused all of the trademarked crops to come under closer scrutiny. In addition, rice is not a crop that the Canadian authorities deal with frequently.

I had understood the clearance would come in October. That did not come through, and now it appears nothing will happen until after the first of the year.

The 24-c registration for the Newpath herbicide is in place. However, the decision has been made that the Clearfield/Newpath system will not go on the market until the Canadian clearance is granted.

The time between the first of the year and rice planting is short, especially in Louisiana. I haven't suddenly turned into a pessimist and am not predicting the clearance will not come in time for planting, but there are training sessions to be held for growers, and a lot of preparation must be done well in advance for things to run smoothly with that program. That puts the companies in a real dilemma as to how much to do, not knowing whether or not the registration will be granted.

I have told you more than I really know about the specifics of the Canada situation. In general terms, I believe I am reasonably correct. The bottom line is we are hung up at the present.

I hope the clearance will come and then there will be a mad dash to get everything in place in the field. That is the way agriculture usually works.

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