Half of all the rice grown in the United States, is grown right here in Arkansas. With more than 9 billion pounds of rice produced each year, Arkansas grows more rice than any other state. September is National Rice Month, a time to celebrate the harvest of the small but mighty grain that has been growing in our state since 1910.
Several Arkansas farmers experimented with rice in the early twentieth century, but William H. Fuller of Carlisle is known as the father of the Arkansas rice industry. He was on a hunting trip in Louisiana when he first saw rice being cultivated. Noting similarities between the Louisiana soil conditions and those of the Grand Prairie, he resolved to experiment with rice on his own land.
Today, rice grows in more than 40 counties in Arkansas. There are 2,300 rice farms in our state. Of those farms, 96% are family owned and operated. The annual Arkansas rice crop contributes billions to the state’s economy and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.
Arkansas rice farmers are decreasing their use of natural resources. Collectively, the industry is using more than 30% less land and energy than it did 20 years ago. During that same time span, farmers have reduced water usage by half. The industry also gives 100,000 pounds of rice annually to fight food insecurity in Arkansas.
Consuming Arkansas-grown rice helps support our neighbors who continue to produce a quality food supply. One half cup of rice contains only 100 calories. It’s naturally sodium, cholesterol and gluten free. And at 10 cents at serving, its budget friendly. If you are looking for ways to incorporate more Arkansas rice in your diet or if you are looking for recipes, try searching the hashtag #nationalricemonth on social media.