Jan 24, 2012 6:52 PM by Maddie Garrett

Rice Farmers Pay Up for Research

Louisiana rice farmers voted overwhelmingly to keep a referendum that funds research and promotion, totaling in the millions of dollars. For every 100 lbs of rice sold, farmers pay five cents for research and three cents for promoting the state's rice industry. The vote comes every five years, and this year 85% voted in favor of the research money and 75% in favor of the promotion money.

But with agriculture proving a tougher business each year, why would farmers want to give away a portion of their revenue? Farmers in Crowley said the small fees are worth it for their industry.

Rice farmer Fred Zaunbrecher has been growing rice for 30 years, and paying into the statewide referendum for just as long.

"Without it, I don't think we'd exist right now," said Zaunbrecher.

He said while farming isn't an easy business, paying a little extra each year is worth it.

"Without research you can't grow it and without promotion you can't sell it, and that's what we're standing by it," he explained.

And with Louisiana producing about 400,000 acres of rice each year that eight cents goes a long way, up into the millions of dollars.

"It's a significant deal, very significant. Without it though this research station wouldn't survive, there's not question about it," said rice expert John Saichuk.

Saichuk works at the LSU AgCenter Research Station in Crowley, where a large portion of the money is earmarked.

"A great deal of that increase in yield has been through development of better, improved varieties. The development of the Clear Fuels System is a very important part of rice production. And all of these things, the farmers realize, are absolutely necessary if they're going to survive," said Saichuk.



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