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Rice mill could cut costs

MER ROUGE, La. — Area farmers are closely watching plans to construct a $10 million rice mill in Morehouse Parish with hopes that the new mill may be good news for them.

Kennedy Rice Mill, a subsidiary of Kennedy Rice Dryers, will open the new mill, which will serve as the only one from the Arkansas border to Interstate 10.

According to rice mill officials, the new mill will reduce transport costs and could process up to 40 percent of northeastern Louisiana’s rice crop.

Concordia Parish rice farmer Al Ater said the new mill will be a huge benefit to rice farmers all over the parish and northeast Louisiana.

“It can’t help but be a positive thing. The closest mills we have are in south Louisiana, and that puts us at a competitive disadvantage,” he said. “This one is substantially closer and gives farmers another option for their crops.”

Ater said in today’s market, rice farmers have two options on what to do with their rice.

The first involves taking un-milled rice or “rough rice” and putting it on barges to ship to other areas to be milled, Ater said.

“Where we are located on the river, many farmers take their rice and export it to other countries to be milled,” he said.

Ater said the second option farmers have is to take the rice to a mill and then export it.

When the new mill in Mer Rouge is complete, Ater said Concordia Parish farmers will have a more viable way of using this option to export their rice.

“Rice prices vary year by year. Sometimes the domestic market is higher and sometimes it is lower,” he said. “Just like with everything else, more options ultimately mean better things for all involved. The more options we have to sell our rice the better, and we are excited to have this option.”

Adams County farmer Noble Guedon said the mill could help offer better prices to farmers who process their crops there.

“The only benefit we can see this bringing is higher prices or decreased costs because we are closer to them,” he said. “We are too far away to see any freight rate increases.”

Guedon said he typically uses the port in Natchez and exports rough rice.

“We have never sold through a mill,” he said.

Guedon said while he will continue to sell his crops the same way, the added option of a rice mill will be an added benefit to rice farmers.

“This mill is going to buy rice at high quality standards from farms that are closer to them,” he said.

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