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Rice industry ‘needs unity’

Avon, Miss., rice producer Marvin Cochran, who was featured in a Nov. 6 article in Delta Farm Press (Patience for rice on buckshot) says there’s one important element missing in the rice industry today — unity.

“Being a young rice producer, the rice industry has given me a lot. I have a beautiful home, a beautiful family and a great life, even in the midst of a gloomy cloudy day,” said Cochran.

“I have more hope for the rice industry than shades of orange in a morning sunrise. It’s infinite. But I really wish the rice industry could get back together in unity.”

Cochran, a producer representative in 2004 Rice Leadership Development Program, says he’s “watched and listened to what’s going on between the USA Rice Federation and the U.S. Rice Producers Association, but in the end, it’s my generation that is going to have to deal with dissension and hurt feelings in the industry.

“The only truth I know about what went on in the past is that there is a lot of blame to go around for everybody.

“I’m a firm supporter of the mills. I don’t want the mills to take advantage of me, but I don’t want to export any rice over the advantage of a mill in this country. But I’m also very proud to have Producers Rice Mill in the Western Line School District as a tax base. I’m glad that mill is alive and thriving and creating jobs in Washington County.

“My grandfather got us started in the rice producing business, my father started making straight levees, and I joined Producers Rice Mill. We haven’t decided which of those three were the most important. We cherish our ties with Producers Rice Mill in this operation.”

Cochran’s desire is for the next generation of rice producers “to all sit down and work out our disagreements. Right now, the wounds are getting deeper and harder to heal. But someday, we’re going to have to heal and get back together because of the economy. We’re duplicating a lot of efforts in Washington, D.C., and in domestic and international promotion. It’s sad that the entire rice industry is not united.

“I like to see us exporting rough rice, especially up and down the Mississippi River and the Gulf. We benefit from that. But to continue the mudslinging that we saw over the checkoff deal and the misinformation going around is very detrimental to this industry.

“We all need to sit down and realize that we need each other. A mill can’t force the producer out of business because he won’t have rice to mill. And we couldn’t sustain the domestic rice industry if all we had to sell is rough rice.”


TAGS: Rice
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