rice

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

When President Obama announced in late 2014 that he would work toward ending the embargo on trade with Cuba, it wasn’t just tourists perking up their ears. Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

One of those farmers is Paul Combs, a rice farmer from southeast Missouri. Cuba can be an important market for farmers like Combs, who already depend on exporting their products.

“We’re excited about normalized relations with Cuba,” Combs said. “Until 1963, Cuba was the biggest market for U.S. rice.”


Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

Chuck Earnest drives along a dirt road next to his rice fields near Steele, Mo. It’s not planting season yet, so the fields are flooded. Flocks of ducks and other waterfowl take turns floating on the rippling water and flying above it.

“This has turned out to be the duck hunting center of Middle America – right in this territory,” he says. “There might be 1,000 ducks out there.”

For such a small region, this sprawling landscape of the Bootheel has some of the most productive farmland in the U.S. A solid water supply and nutrient-rich flatland creates a fertile environment to grow some of the most diverse crops not readily found in the rest of the state. You can find watermelons, sweet potatoes, cotton and a small but strong sector in Missouri growing rice.


Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

After years of negotiations, a dozen countries – from New Zealand up to Canada –are on the verge of a trade agreement that could be worth billions of dollars to the U.S. agriculture industry. Many American farmers and ranchers are eager to see the expected benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

A free trade agreement across the Pacific Ocean could open up markets and raise prices for him as well as other rice producers, said Chuck Earnest, a rice farmer in southeast Missouri.


dok1 / Flickr

To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Photo provided by Dent County Sheriff's Department

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A suspect in a double slaying in Missouri is in fair condition after being shot by police in the lobby of an upscale hotel in the state capital.

Dent County Sheriff Rick Stallings says law enforcement officers began pursuing 44-year-old Marvin Rice of Salem after a witness reported Rice shot a man and woman on Saturday.

Stallings says Rice led officers on a high-speed chase across rural Missouri before fleeing on foot into a prominent hotel near the Missouri state capitol. He was shot and wounded in an exchange of gunfire in the lobby.