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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.

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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

'What’s Good for Rice is Good for Ducks'

comm-whats-good-for-rice-is-good-for-ducks-infographic-smallWASHINGTON, DC – There’s no doubt that rice, waterfowl and wetland habitats work cohesively to form a perfect ecosystem, and a recently published report puts a monetary value on those existing rice lands.  Authored by DU scientists for The Rice Foundation, the study found that the cost of attempting to replace rice lands with natural wetland habitat would exceed $3.5 billion.

All three rice-growing regions of the United States – the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), Gulf Coast and California’s Central Valley– overlap directly with the continent’s most important waterfowl wintering grounds.  According to the study, more than 40 percent of the food resources available to wintering dabbling ducks along the Central Valley and Gulf Coast derive from flooded rice fields. The values for geese are higher because of dry-land feeding.

Unfortunately for waterfowl and rice farmers alike, all three regions face challenges as it relates to keeping rice on the land. Water supplies for rice production are under increasing pressure in all areas, and many producers may be forced to adopt practices that provide far fewer benefits for waterfowl.

Because of the significance of rice lands for waterfowl habitat, the two groups formed the USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership in 2013 to advocate for sound agriculture- and conservation-related policies and to promote the important ecosystem benefits of rice agriculture.

To learn more about the partnership, please click here.

(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.

BIRD-CONSERVATION REPORT

The State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands United States of America

pp. 8-9 Feature: “Private Lands Conservation Spotlight: Rice Farm Habitat for Waterbirds”

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."

More Conservation Resources

 

SUSTAINABILITY -- The U.S. rice industry continues its mission of advancing sustainable rice production that is profitable and environmentally sound.

Jennifer JamesRice-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.

More Sustainability Resources