A Rice Leadership Development Program class is in California this week for the third session of their two-year program.  The producer class members are Alex Clark, Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Matthew Feilke, Stuttgart, Ark.; Shannon Harrington, Iowa, La.; Nicole Montna Van Vleck, Yuba City, Calif.; and Jim Whitaker, McGehee, Ark. The industry class members are Andy Morris, Uncle Ben's, McCarley, Miss., and Dan Squires, Bunge Milling, Yuba City, Calif.

On Monday, the class visited Farmers' Rice Cooperative (FRC) in Sacramento. The class met with FRC President and CEO Mike Sandrock and Field Services Vice President Rob Paschoal to discuss the structure of the cooperative and marketing California rice. The day's itinerary also included meetings with Louie Brown of Kahn, Soares & Conway to discuss legislative issues, a visit to DeWit Ranch for a discussion on California regulatory issues with California Rice Commission (CRC) staff, and a dinner hosted by Sun Valley Rice.   

Tuesday's agenda included personal-development training on the challenges of management in changing times as well as a firsthand look at the diversity of state agriculture. The class learned about almond and pistachio production and harvesting at Rick Strain's farming operation, then met with class alumnus Leo LaGrande at LaGrande Ranch to observe rice harvest. A number of California leadership program alumni and state rice leaders joined the class for dinner.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc. and American Commodity Company through the Rice Foundation and managed by the USA Rice Federation.