Rice and Ducks Print E-mail
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 -- Rice farming is one of the few agricultural activities where a positive impact on the environment is widely recognized


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.

All of the major rice-production areas in the United States correspond with important areas of waterfowl activity during winter months. Rice-growing areas provide surrogate habitats for hundreds of wildlife species that rely on wetland conditions for species survival, some of which are currently or could be threatened if not for the wetland environments provided by flooded rice fields.

Without rice farming, wetland habitats in the United States would be vastly reduced. A loss of this magnitude would have a disastrous effect on waterfowl, shore birds and a host of other wetland-dependent species. These widely noted environmental benefits accrue not only to wildlife as well as current and future generation of wildlife enthusiasts, but also produce economic benefits that support recreational industries and ultimately, local economies.

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



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.



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.



The State of the Birds 2014 Report on Private Lands United States of America: landowners can measure their yield not only in bushels..., but also in bluebirds, hawks, and canvasbacks.

“...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..."