STUTTGART – The farmer members of Arkansas-based Riceland Foods Inc. recently elected Jennifer James to the board of directors for the North Central Arkansas District.

James, a fourth-generation rice, soybean and corn farmer from Newport, is a regional leader in the field of agriculture and sustainability, according to a news release.

James succeeds Joe Rennicke of Weiner, who held the seat for the last 35 years.

“Rennicke’s tenure on the board included many key developments for Riceland Foods, including the 1980s consolidation with individual grain dryers that united Riceland as an organization, as well as the creation of Riceland’s Research and Technical Center to develop new products like rice flour, instant rice and forecasts on future consumer trends,” according to the release.

James’ district includes Newport, Tuckerman, Hickory Ridge, Weiner, Fair Oaks and Waldenburg.

“No one in the world produces higher quality rice as responsibly and sustainably as our farmers here in Arkansas and Missouri,” said James, who becomes the first woman to serve on Riceland Foods’ board of directors, the cooperative’s governing body. “As we adjust to shifting market demands and compete more directly on global trade, we need to maintain that commitment to quality and the responsible use of natural resources, including water conservation.”

Part owner of the H&J Land Co., James has demonstrated a commitment to instituting agricultural best practices that conserve natural resources throughout the industry as well as her own family-owned land, recognized as an Arkansas Century Farm, according to the release.

“She continually explores advanced practices and improvements. In 2017, James was recognized as the 2017 Farmer of the Year by Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture for efforts on her farm and sustainability leadership in the industry,” according to the release.

“Riceland Food’s board of directors formulate the policies that guide the operations of the cooperative, responsible for storing, processing, transporting and marketing more than 2.5 million metric tons of grain each year. Riceland products are sold across the United States and exported to more than 75 foreign destinations,” according to the release.

Danny Kennedy is chief executive officer of Riceland Foods.

“The world’s growing population needs productive, sustainable farms and the commitment of dedicated farmers like the 5,500 members of our cooperative,” Kennedy said. “We’re thankful for the decades of leadership and hard work Joe put in during his time on the board to ensure our farmers get an equal opportunity to compete and prepare for tomorrow’s shifting marketplace. We now look forward to Jennifer’s leadership as we face that future together and make sure our farmers can continue to thrive while also being good stewards of our land.”

James has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in agricultural business from the University of Arkansas. She is chairman of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee, vice chairman of the Arkansas Rice Farmers Board and is a member of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board Agribusiness Industry Council, as well as the Arkansas Agricultural Board.