May 12, 2022
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Rice country was honored with some very special guests this week when The Nature Conservancy (TNC) a science-based, global, non-profit organization with a mission to conserve lands and waters where people and nature can thrive, spent several days here learning about rice farming systems in Arkansas.
Representatives from The KKAC Organization, an Arkansas-based non-profit focused on providing education and technical assistance to youth and minority landowners, also joined the two-day tour.
Both groups met with Dr. Michele Reba and Dr. Joe Massey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Delta Water Management Research Unit, and also toured H&J Land Company.
Jennifer and Greg James, and Marvin Hare, owners of H&J Land Company, showcased how all the rice systems on their operation are integrated to enhance biodiversity, from unique soil profiles to surface storage systems that capture and recirculate irrigation water.
“We were thrilled to have the TNC reps from multiple states and KKAC converge in a rice field to learn more about our industry,” said Josh Hankins, USA Rice director of grower relations and the Rice Stewardship Partnership.
Following the first day of tours, a reception was held here for the TNC guests and attended by rice producers; the Arkansas Natural Resources Conservation Service; Delta Plastics, Arkansas Natural Resources Division; Riceland Foods; Arkansas Advanced Energy; Arkansas Rice, and USA Rice.
TNC representatives included Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, director of agriculture engagement strategy, North America; Mike Dunn, Indiana director of freshwater programs; Trey Cooke, director of Mississippi River basin program; and many representatives from the Arkansas chapter of TNC.
“TNC is no stranger to rice,” said Hankins. “They have led programs targeting rice farmers to incentivize irrigation technology, an effort assisted by USA Rice and Arkansas Rice. Our collaboration makes the industry stronger and elevates the impact of conservation on the ground. We’re excited about enhancing this partnership to expand programming opportunities for rice producers.”