A Cape Girardeau rice producer has acquired 12 acres of industrial property along Nash Road with the intent of building a rice processing plant for his crop, as well as the crops of other rice farmers in the region.

Sam Schneider, founder and owner of Inland Cape Rice Co., said he hopes to break ground for the rice mill by late summer and be operational in early 2022.

Schneider is a second-generation farmer whose father, Joe Schneider, began growing corn and soybeans 35 years ago. Starting about five years ago, the father-and-son team began planting rice on several hundred acres near McClure, Illinois, that is well suited for rice cultivation because of its susceptibility to flooding and high moisture content.

"Since I started farming, all I've ever known is floodwater, and rice does really well in aquatic environments," Sam Schneider said, explaining how he and his father converted their farming operation to rice.

In 2019, the Schneiders started Inland Cape Rice, a rice brand available at more than 100 grocery stores, including several Dierbergs locations in the St. Louis area, as well as on Amazon.com and on the company's website, www.inlandcaperice.com. The Schneiders are also in conversations with Schnuck Markets about adding Inland Cape Rice to shelves in the Schnucks grocery chain.

According to Sam Schneider, there are only a couple of rice processing facilities in Southeast Missouri, both located in the Bootheel area. Inland Cape Rice's processing plant would not only be able to handle the Schneider rice production, but also rice grown elsewhere in the region, which could then be shipped on I- 55 or through the nearby Southeast Missouri Regional Port.

"It will depend on how much we decide to automate the facility," he said.

"The project, in a nutshell is we want to add value to our acres and add value for the other farmers in the area, as well," the younger Schneider said, and acknowledged the guidance and assistance he has received from others.

"I'm somewhat of a new guy on the block," he said. "As a 29-year-old, there are a lot of guys that are twice my age that have helped me a lot and I definitely couldn't do this without some of the people who have helped us learn how to grow rice."