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Operating under the
authority of the Secretary
of Food & Agriculture,
State of California

Dana Dickey, Manager
PO Box 507
Yuba City, CA 95992
Phone: 530-673-6247
Fax: 530-674-0426

Issue #12, Fall 2003

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RRB - RES, What's the Difference?

There is one question that I can't seem to shake. When I introduce myself to a grower, their first question seems to be "are you based at Biggs"? This question seems to come up because many are under the illusion that the Rice Research Board (RRB) and the Rice Experiment Station (RES) are one and the same. I hope you will stick with me and find out the differences. (RES is the facility that is owned by the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, CCRRF, a non-profit (501c[5])).


The Rice Experiment Station was established at its present site between Biggs and Richvale in 1912 through the cooperative efforts of the Sacramento Valley Grain Association, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the University of California (UC). Beginning in the depression years the appropriations by Congress did not allow sufficient funds for carrying out the necessary research at the Biggs Station. In the late 40's, research money was drying up. The station was changed to a non-profit foundation and some key people at the mills supported a request for a voluntary check-off program of one-quarter of a cent per bag. Operations limped along at the station with enough money to pay the personnel, but no money to improve the station. In 1965 the rice industry requested a major acceleration of the breeding program. The RES Board of Directors found themselves without sufficient funds to expand and meet industry demands. Members of BUCRA and a joint rice industry-UC scientist panel concurrently began functioning to create an expanded rice research program. Early in 1969, a Rice Marketing Order was proposed and action taken to obtain such an arrangement. During 1968 and 1969, tremendous effort was put into the education of growers about the purposes of the proposed RRB. Finally in August 1969, the referendum was approved with 79.8% of growers agreeing and the RRB came into being. The RRB was able to supply $360,000 in research funds that first year. The RES was able to hire two more plant breeders and launch into an intensive breeding program. UC research also launched a number of research efforts in insect control, fertilization, crop residue management, weed control, disease control, and water management.

Clearly there are differences in how the two organizations came into existence. The history of the respective groups is described in the "History" sidebar. My concern in this main article is to highlight the differences today.


Let's start with the leadership of the two groups. Each winter, growers have the opportunity to nominate grower representatives as directors of the RRB. These 22 grower representatives make all the decisions that guide the RRB in its financial, research and priority directions. (Yes, the RRB operates under the authority of the CDFA and its recommendations go to the Director to assist him in administering the program. Generally the Board's ideas are approved.) As you will see when finances are discussed, most of the RRB funds are spent for research. For each project presented to them they must decide what projects to fund, how much to fund, what to reject, and what to modify. The decisions are not automatic, the growers study the merits of each project and may request changes in priorities or simply not fund the request.

The RES has a similar structure. Eleven rice growers are selected through a separate late summer election to act as directors for the RES. The directors are responsible to guide the Station activities and course. They establish a budget and proposal for submission to the RRB for funding. They also determine if and when new varieties are released and where to direct the limited resources of the Station. (RES, UC, and USDA operate under an MOU and release varieties together, but CCRRF owns the varieties.) The two Boards are completely separate. Their only connection is that a member of each Board sits as a liaison on the other Board to keep both groups informed. Members of both Boards are not paid, but volunteer.


The RRB is concerned with the research needs of all California growers of rice. As a result, the areas of research cover a wide range of topics in an attempt to cover the needs of the many diverse growers of CA rice. A sampling over the years of the scope of research by the RRB includes:

  • Breeding
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Salinity tolerance
  • Seedling vigor
  • Weed control
  • Environmental fate of chemicals
  • Invertebrate pest control
  • Cause and control of Aggregate Sheath Spot, Blast, Stem Rot, Bakanae
  • Drift control
  • Variety trials
  • Fertilization trials
  • Winter cover crops
  • Straw incorporation
  • Maintaining rice quality after harvest
  • Computerized rice management
  • Head rice improvement

The RES has a more narrowly defined research mission. It is to develop improved rice varieties and agronomic management systems for the benefit of CA growers. Their secondary objective is to support UC and USDA research by providing land, resources, and management for agronomic, weed, insect, disease, and other disciplinary research.

The RRB greatly appreciates this cooperative stance by the RES since a significant number of its research projects occur on the 478 acres owned by RES. They provide the support personnel, water and equipment needed to carry out many of the UC projects under contract with the RRB. On the other hand, the RRB funds the essential varietal trials that place the latest varieties under consideration at RES out in nine different test locations throughout the rice growing region.


The RRB was formed to conduct research on a variety of needs experienced by the California rice industry. Though funding of the Rice Experiment Station was a driving force for forming the RRB, even the first annual report in 1970 shows the need to research many other issues. Thus the present RRB establishes a list of research priorities that are distributed to researchers. Researchers respond with proposals that the Board examines and evaluates, and external experts offer their comments. The Board then goes through a process of selecting those projects that offer the greatest benefit to CA growers. Only those projects that can fit within the limits of the RRB income, and offer the grower a benefit, are approved.

The RES has three specific responsibilities: Develop improved rice varieties, produce foundation seed, and support UC/USDA research efforts. Foundation seed production is not funded by RRB but by CCRRF. You can see this is essential to the continued progress of the rice industry, but quite different from the RRB.


The accompanying graphic shows the money trail for the two organizations. Funds for the RRB come from grower assessments. The five cent per hundred pounds assessment is collected by the mills and handlers of rice. This rate of assessment has been constant since 1981. The funds come into the Board office and are used to pay for the research the Board selects. Funds from a crop (2002 for example) are used to pay for the next year's research (2003).

There are no mandatory funds collected for the RES. 80% of the funding for the RES comes from the RRB and 20% comes from sale of foundation seed and other grain sales. Funding supports 15 employees at RES. Certain expenditures, such as a piece of equipment or land additions, often come out of interest from the Rice Research Trust, a fund of voluntary contributions.


RRB Budget

RRB REsearch Budget

RES Budget

Finally, the three pie charts show how money is spent. The RRB budget for 2003 devotes 89% of its budget to research. That portion is divided among RES, USDA, UC Davis and other minor contractors. The 67% of the RRB research budget that is devoted to RES is expended as shown in the RES Budget chart. Again, the RRB reviews the proposed objectives and budget for the RES each year. Many times adjustments are requested or suggestions are made to more closely align the two groups objectives.

I hope this brings some clarity to the differences between the RRB and the RES. If you have further questions, please give the Board office a call.

New RRB Chairman

At the August meeting of the RRB, Chairman George Sligar Jr. passed the leadership of the organization to new Chairman Eric Larrabee. Eric farms near Butte City with his father and brothers and has served as RRB Vice-Chairman for several years.

The picture shows Eric (the one in the middle) and his twin daughters who recently celebrated their first birthday.

George Sligar deserves considerable praise for his leadership on the Board. Sligar has overseen the reregistration effort for MCPA, restoring the usage of propanil by air, and encouraging the creation of a reserve fund for the RRB. He continues to serve the rice industry as a valuable Board member.

Jack Williams Retires

Jack Williams, Farm Advisor and County Director for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sutter-Yuba Counties, will retire at the end of October after 34 years of service to the rice industry. A retirement party to honor Jack will be held on Thursday, November 20 in Yuba City. For more information call Glenn Nader at 530.822.7515.

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