BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana rice farmers have voted overwhelmingly to keep paying a nickel for every 100 pounds of rice for research and 3 cents per hundred pounds for promotion.
The results of the vote were released Monday. The LSU AgCenter says 357 producers voted for the research checkoff and 65 against it, and the promotion money was approved 321 to 107. That's about 85 percent in favor of the research money, and 75 percent in favor of the promotion money.
The payments are to continue for the next five years. Then the farmers will vote again.
"As farmers, everyone on both boards knows how difficult farming has become, and we will continue to carefully weigh how each dollar is spent," said Jackie Loewer, a rice farmer from Branch, La., and chairman of the Louisiana Rice Research Board.
Most of the research money is earmarked for the AgCenter's Rice Research Station.
"A continuation of these checkoff funds means that research can continue to develop new varieties and to improve rice farming practices," research station director Steve Linscombe said.
The state's rice promotion and research boards are made up of volunteer farmers who decide how the money is to be spent.
The funds for promoting rice are crucial, said promotion board chairman Kevin Berken, of Lake Arthur.
"If we can't sell a crop, then it doesn't matter how successful farmers are at growing rice," Berken said. "Approval of these funds means we can carry on with the very successful domestic and international promotion activities that these funds support."
Loewer said, "Bottom line is, without research we couldn't grow it, and without promotion, we can't sell it."