To paraphrase Churchill’s famous quote regarding Russia, the U.S. rice industry is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The industry qua industry is over three hundred years old, but few Americans know much about it. The U.S. is a major rice producer and one of the leading exporters of rice, but per capita consumption is very low, and Americans get only about 3% of their calories from rice (as opposed to two-thirds or even three-fourths in parts of Asia).1 Although rice is generally associated with small-scale production and heavy labor requirements, the U.S. rice industry can be characterized as agribusiness par excellence: There are relatively few producers, most of whom are very large, and rice is the mostcapital-intensive crop grown in the United States. These large-scale producers, not surprisingly, have long had a good bit of political influence in the U.S., and the industry, which is concentrated in a handful of states, has long been heavily protected and/or subsidized. Riddles, mysteries, and enigmas abound, then, but how did the U.S. rice industry develop in this way.