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Agriculture & Local Economies

Global economics changed the region as agricultural expansion brought both wealth and population to the Grand Prairie. However, throughout most of the 1900s, the farmers' harvest residue has provided an attraction to waterfowl and a welcomed bi-product that made duck and goose hunting a secondary income source for many landowners.

As the Grand Prairie has prospered, agriculture has placed greater demand on the region's soil and water resources. Subsequently, land and water have become the region's most valuable natural resources and their wise use is increasingly necessary in order to preserve their agricultural economy as well as the waterfowl resources they support.

Agribusiness drives the economy

Today, some of the Grand Prairie's largest employers depend on agriculture, which is directly linked to the rice crops rotated over about 250,000 acres within the region.

Riceland Foods Inc., an 80-year old farmer-owned cooperative which has its international headquarters in Stuttgart, generated 1999 sales and revenues of $768 million.

Customers including Tyson Foods, Anheuser Busch, Wal-Mart Stores and Kellogg Co., among others, depend on Riceland for quality rice, soybean and wheat products. With more than $200 million invested and 1,800 employees, Riceland annually markets about 25 percent of the nation's $1.8 billion rice crop.

Riceland's processing and marketing needs create additional business opportunities for companies including Oakland, Tenn.-based Ring Can Corp., a major producer of plastic containers. Ring Can built a dedicated factory for Riceland at Stuttgart in 1992 and that production facility maintains around-the-clock operations that mesh with Riceland's continuous processing and production schedule.

Agribusiness is important to the Grand Prairie and the money generated in such rural economies changes hands more often and touches more lives that equal amounts in an urban marketplace.