UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has established a $1 million UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice, announced UC ANR associate vice president of business operations Tu Tran. The endowed chair will provide a UCCE scientist a dedicated source of funds to support scholarly activities focused on improvement of California rice production and quality.
Half the funds for the endowed chair was provided by UC President Janet Napolitano; the other half was donated by the California Rice Research Board. The announcement was made at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, Calif., on Aug. 31.
“The establishment of this endowed chair strengthens the long-standing public-private research partnership UC Cooperative Extension has had with the California rice industry,” Tran said. “Continued research advancements will help the rice industry maintain its reputation for supplying a premium product for domestic and world markets.”
The California rice industry has a long history of supporting research, said Seth Fiack, Glenn County rice farmer and the past president of the California Rice Research Board. As president of the board, Fiack shepherded the establishment of the new presidential chair.
“We, as an industry, have always taken it upon ourselves to fund research we see as significant,” Fiack said. “More than 100 years ago, rice growers established the Rice Experiment Station to keep them viable and sustainable. California rice chooses to have the highest investment in research on a per-unit basis among rice producing states.”
The Rice Experiment Station in Biggs is operated by the grower owned and funded California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, in close collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension, UC Davis and USDA.
UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis scientists focus on rice production research issues such as weed, disease and insect pest management, nutrient management and water conservation. They also conduct the Statewide Yield Tests, testing varieties and experimental rice lines in grower's fields, all with funding support from the California Rice Research Board.
Don Bransford, third-generation Sacramento Valley rice grower, praised the formation of the new UC Cooperative Extension Presidential chair for California Grown Rice.
“This is a partnership that has gone back many, many years,” Bransford said. “Much of the success of the California rice industry is due to our relationship with Cooperative Extension. Working hand-in-hand with UC, we've been able to supply markets with an extremely high quality rice and support the environment by providing critical habitat to more than 200 wildlife species.”
The new presidential chair will be awarded by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to a UCCE specialist or advisor currently working in rice research or to recruit an external candidate to UCCE. The chair appointment will be for a five-year term, and then reviewed and renewed or offered to another specialist or advisor working on California rice.
Napolitano created the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs in 2014 for UC campuses and UC ANR to use as an incentive to encourage donors to establish endowed chairs to fund research. Endowed chairs help attract and retain top-flight academics.