A future leader of the rice industry from California recently participated in an extensive leadership session meeting with government, regulatory and rice industry officials in Washington D.C. during the fourth and final session of their two year Rice Leadership Development Program.

Henry Kalfsbeek of Sacramento was part of a VIP class that met with various U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies to get updates on domestic programs, international trade policy issues, as well as Senate and House Agriculture Committee briefings. The class also had and opportunity to meet with officials at the American Bankers Association to hear their perspective on the agriculture credit market. A reception held at the Cuban Interest Section was a highlight of the session. “This experience has provided this class with an opportunity to meet with key stakeholders, such as the Ambassador of Cuba, that we would not have had otherwise,” said Kalfsbeek.

“Being in Washington while the farm bill negations are going on was a golden opportunity to meet with key government officials that have a tremendous impact on our lives and try to make them aware of how important it is to keep a strong safety net for U.S. farmers,” said Kalfsbeek.

The class graduated during a special ceremony in conjunction with the USA Rice Federation's Government Affairs Conference, also being held in Washington. Rice Foundation Chairman Dr. Ernest Girouard and USA Rice Federation Chairman Al Montna presented the graduation certificates and alumni pins to class members. Brian King severed as class spokesperson, thanked John Deere Company and Syngenta for sponsoring the program and for the opportunity to broaden their leadership skills.

The Rice Leadership Development Program provides future leaders with a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communications skills. During a two-year period, seven class members selected from rice producing states attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

In addition to Kalfsbeek, the other rice producers are Jeremy Baltz of Pocahontas, Arkansas; Ross Hebert of Abbeville, Louisiana; Buck Leonards of Crowley, Louisiana; and Clyde Simmons of Hollandale, Mississippi. The industry-related member of the class is Brian King of Marked Tree, Arkansas.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company and Syngenta through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and is administered by the USA Rice Federation.

The USA Rice Federation is the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry with a mission to promote and protect the interests of producers, millers, merchants and allied businesses.