Rice production took root in Arkansas nearly 100 years ago. Today, Arkansas ranks at the top of the six major rice producing states and accounts for nearly half of all rice production in the country. Rice produced in Arkansas is known for its versatility and is used in a great variety of dishes in the United States and throughout the world. As family rice farmers across our state are harvesting their crop, our country is celebrating the month of September as National Rice Month.
While it may seem hard to believe here in Arkansas, many Americans do not even know rice is grown in our country. In Congress, I am working to educate my colleagues about the role rice production plays in American agriculture and in economies of many rural communities. Last year I co-founded the Congressional Rice Caucus in the House of Representatives to form a united voice for rice producers in the United States. Over the last two years the Rice Caucus has advocated for new trade opportunities to expand markets for U.S.-grown rice and has fought back against senseless Washington regulations that hurt family farm operations.
In Arkansas's rural economy, rice plays a leading role. Rice is our state's second-highest value commodity and our top agricultural export. Annually, rice production in Arkansas contributes more than $1.8 billion to the state's economy and accounts for thousands of jobs that keep small communities alive across our state. Of the 3.6 million acres dedicated to rice production in the United States each year, I am proud to have 1.8 million of those rice production acres right here in Arkansas.
In addition to driving our rural economy, rice also has tremendous health benefits. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and Nutrition Today shows that eating enriched white rice and whole grain brown rice helps improve overall diet quality and potentially reduces the risk of many chronic diseases.
While rice plays a large role in our state's economy and represents a nutritious menu option, it's the families who farm rice who truly tell our state's story. Family rice farms represent the success that comes from hard work and never being willing to settle for less than the absolute best. The farm operations also represent what can be achieved when the entire family joins together through good times and bad. During National Rice Month, I recognize rice producers in Arkansas and across the country for their contributions to American agriculture.