Farmers Rice Milling announces $13.4 million investment near Lak - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Farmers Rice Milling announces $13.4 million investment near Lake Charles

The following is a news release from the Louisiana Economic Development Office:

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Farmers Rice Milling Company Inc. have announced a $13.4 million expansion and modernization of the company's rice mill in eastern Calcasieu Parish, according to a news release from state economic development officials.

Officials on Tuesday said the 55,000-square-foot expansion of the mill's clean rice packaging and distribution facility will allow the company to increase processing speed and volume.

The project will retain 87 jobs at the rice mill, with an average salary of $34,500, plus benefits, officials said.

Jindal said, "Farmers Rice Milling Company has a long history of buying rice from Louisiana farmers, and we're proud they're expanding right here in our state. We've made retaining and expanding Louisiana's existing businesses our top economic development priority since taking office in 2008, and this expansion is another example of our commitment to make Louisiana the best place in the world to find a great job and pursue a rewarding career. Farmers Rice Milling Company could have chosen to invest in another state, but they picked Louisiana because of our strong business climate, outstanding farmers and our incomparable workforce."

Officials said Farmers Rice Milling Company, a division of The Powell Group, operates the largest rice mill in Louisiana.

The mill and related businesses form the largest agriculture-related business in Southwest Louisiana. Overall, the company employs more than 125 workers in the rice mill and related facilities in and around Lake Charles.

Officials said the company also employs an additional 25 Louisiana citizens at its headquarters in Baton Rouge.

"This project ensures Farmers Rice Milling will continue to purchase rice from the farmers of Southwest Louisiana and grow its position as a leader in the world rice market," said company CEO James Warshaw. "Farmers Rice Milling Company has been a key part of the agricultural economy in Louisiana for over 90 years, employing hundreds of workers and buying services from vendors and suppliers around the state. The company looks forward to continuing its work with LED and its goods relations with the communities of Southwest Louisiana."

Officials said Farmers Rice Milling processes and mills rough rice at the Lake Charles facility, and then packages and distributes clean rice to customers from the site. The mill, which has been in continuous business since 1917, is investing in the new facility to expand its output and meet the demand of national and international customers.

The mill reportedly purchases rice from rice-growing regions throughout Louisiana and serves customers in the United States and worldwide, including Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. The mill purchases $120 million annually in locally grown rice, and supports those who work in the rice industry, from farmers to truck drivers. The mill is capable of processing more than 800 million pounds of rice per year, officials said.

"We are very pleased about today's news from the Farmers Rice Milling Company," said Shannon Spell, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury president. "For more than 95 years, this Calcasieu-based company has been a staple of the rice industry, reaching customers worldwide. This expansion provides a twofold benefit by increasing economic impact and retaining jobs. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury applauds the efforts of Louisiana Economic Development and Farmers Rice Milling Company, and we look forward to observing this expansion growth in the future."

Officials said LED began working with Farmers Rice Milling on the modernization project in May 2011. To support the expansion, LED offered the company a competitive incentive package, including a Modernization Tax Credit of $425,000 payable over five years. The company is also expected to utilize the Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

"The SWLA Economic Development Alliance congratulates Farmers Rice Milling Company on this modernization project, which will increase their production," said President and CEO George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "Farmers Rice Milling has been a longtime leader in agribusiness in Southwest Louisiana. In addition to supporting local agriculture, they are a strong job provider for our region."

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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