Richard E. Bell
Richard Bell retired in July 2004 as president and CEO of Riceland Foods, Inc., capping a 27-year career with the world’s largest miller of rice and one of the Mid-South’s largest processor of soybeans. A native of Clinton, Ill., Bell earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois-Urbana. He joined the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service as an agricultural economist in 1959, spending three years in that role. He also worked as assistant agricultural attaché in the American Embassy in Ottawa, Canada (1961-63), as well as Brussels, Belgium (1963-65). He was agricultural attaché for the American Embassy in Dublin, Ireland from 1965-68. Bell returned to USDA, and over the next nine years held progressively more significant positions, including three years as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, International Affairs and Commodity Programs (1975-77). He joined Riceland in 1977 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He was elevated to president and CEO in 1981, and spent the next 23 years leading the organization to unequalled heights. Bell represented Arkansas agricultural interests on numerous boards and commissions, including the U.S. Rice Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the Chicago Board of Trade, National Grain and Feed Association and the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. Additionally, he was a member of the board of directors for GTE Southwest, Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and First Commercial Corp. Within Arkansas, Bell served as a member of the Arkansas State University board of trustees, on the Arkansas State Committee on Cooperatives, as a director of the Stuttgart Regional Medical Center, the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum, the UAMS Foundation, the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, Easter Seals-Arkansas, and the Grand Prairie Child Development Center. He was named the 2002 Citizen of the Year by the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2003, and was named the Scottish Rite Citizen of the Year in Arkansas in 2004.