Rice production in the United States annually provides more than $34 billion in economic activity. Further, it benefits the environment and provides a safe, reliable, wholesome, affordable, and nutritious food for consumers worldwide. American rice farmers have a longstanding commitment to protect and preserve natural resources.
CONSERVATION -- Attention: Conservation May be Habitat Forming ... and America's wildlife couldn't be happier.
Many species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles take advantage of the wetland habitat created by rice farmers, making rice a unique agricultural crop. Winter-flooded rice fields lying along critical flyways provide food and cover resources that are vital resting and foraging habitat for migratory and wintering waterfowl.
Understanding the value of sound agricultural stewardship, the USA Rice Producers' Group appoints rice growers to its Conservation Committee, to advise about conservation policies, programs, and practices. Rice Farmers Recognized for Excellence in Conservation
USA Rice Federation and Ducks Unlimited Form Historic Partnership
A groundbreaking partnership between the USA Rice Federation (USA Rice) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) has been forged to serve as a model of cooperation and communication between a farm group and a conservation organization. The USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership held its first formal meeting on March 14, 2103, at DU’s national headquarters at Memphis. A second meeting was held in Washington, D.C., on April 16, when Stewardship Partnership members met with key U.S. House and Senate offices to explain the purpose and significance of their cooperative-conservation initiatives.The Stewardship Partnership will work to bring about meaningful and long-term improvements to three of the nation’s critical natural and economic resources: working rice lands, waterfowl, and water. To achieve these objectives, the organizations will identify and pursue public policies, funding sources, communications strategies and strategically developed research and management practices that are mutually beneficial to both organizations and to society. To learn more, please click here.
NEW (May 2, 2013) - New Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative Opportunity for Louisiana Ag Producers
CONSERVATION IN RICELANDS OF NORTH AMERICA
The Rice Foundation is a separate rice-industry organization that funds research projects to address important industry issues. In December 2008, the Foundation and Ducks Unlimited released the in-depth and scholarly study, Conservation in Ricelands of North America, which compiles and documents the latest scientific knowledge about rice producers' and rice fields' important contributions to wildlife and their habitat. Ducks Unlimited's Dr. Scott Manley edited the study, which the Rice Foundation funded.
Excerpt, p. 8: “...ricelands support approximately 45% of the North American wintering duck population. Ricelands provide an estimated 60% of all dabbling duck foods in the Central Valley, 35% of all food along the Gulf Coast, and 70% of food in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. These same habitats are also extremely important to shorebirds and other wetland-dependent birds..."
In a July 2, 2013, news release, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced release of the 2013 report, The State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands United States of America. The news release says the publication is a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, involving federal and state wildlife agencies and scientific and conservation organizations. The report's Foreword says it "shows that private lands have critical conservation value, and that landowners can measure their yield not only in bushels..., but also in bluebirds, hawks, and canvasbacks."
Wading Birds in a Louisiana Rice Field - A flock of dowitchers in a flooded Louisiana rice field.
SUSTAINABILITY -- The U.S. rice industry continues its mission of advancing sustainable rice production that is profitable and environmentally sound.
Rice-industry representatives serve on the USA Rice Federation’s Sustainability Task Force to advance and communicate Federation sustainability initiatives. Jennifer James, an Arkansas rice producer, chairs the Sustainability Task Force.
The USA Rice Federation defines its sustainable-agriculture commitment as the efficient use of resources and management practices and meeting current and future societal needs.
In 2010, USA Rice commissioned a Rice Foundation study that quantifies beneficial rice-production impacts over the 20-year period 1987-2007 in five key environmental areas: land, water and energy use, soil loss, and climate change. The study shows rice growers are producing more with fewer resources.
Ducks Unlimited's Dr. Mark Petrie is conducting another Rice Foundation-funded study to estimate the biological and economic contributions that rice fields make in support of North American waterfowl populations. Completion of the study is scheduled for 2013.
To view the USA Rice sustainability power point presentation, please click here.
USA Rice actively participates in key sustainability organizations: Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture.
Field to Market encourages improvements across the supply chain in productivity, environmental quality and human well-being. In July 2012, Field to Market released its report, Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On-Farm Agricultural Production in the United States. Rice data in the 2012 report documents the progress that rice producers made between 1980 and 2011 to grow their crops sustainably, which is similar to the achievements reported in the 2010 Rice Foundation study. Rice producers can understand the impact of their management practices on a field-by-field basis by accessing Field to Market's fieldprint calculator.
NISA helps producers to achieve verifiable sustainability outcomes, improve the environmental services and productivity of their farms, and satisfy performance expectations of the value chain. Mississippi Rice producers Marvin Cochran represents the USA Rice Federation on NISA’s board.