Rice Stewardship Partnership to Submit Three New RCPP Proposals

Jul 25, 2016
An electric pump and permanent flow meter
installed on a rice field irrigated with 100 percent surface water.
Electric-pump-& flow-meter
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Earlier this year, the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership jointly submitted three pre-proposals for conservation financial assistance funding through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  Last Friday, the Partnership was selected to submit final proposals by September 19 for all three projects spanning the Mid-South and the Gulf of Mexico.

USA Rice is taking the lead on the Mid-South Graduated Water Stewardship Program focused on the Lower Mississippi River Valley region and prioritizing water quantity, water quality, wildlife habitat, climate change, and saving energy.

“Our team in the field is really looking forward to continuing the build out of this proposal which, if funded, would greatly benefit ricelands in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Northeast Louisiana,” said Little Rock-based USA Rice Stewardship Partnership Coordinator Josh Hankins.  “We’re putting a lot of focus on alternative irrigation methods that help address climate change and water shortages with as much input from rice farmers as we can gather.  The practices offered through this proposal would allow rice farmers of all levels of advancement to participate, encouraging improvements in operating efficiency and conservation of natural resources through a variety of strategies.”

The other two proposals invited to submit final RCPP proposals to NRCS are led by USA Rice partners Ducks Unlimited and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA).

The Gulf Coast Water and Wetlands Conservation proposal, led by Ducks Unlimited, focused on the Gulf region’s prairies, marshes, and bays, and will address insufficient water quantity and wildlife habitat using EQIP and CSP as conservation implementation tools.  Improvements will also be sought in water quality and energy savings by utilizing irrigation efficiencies and groundwater conservation.

The third proposal, the LCRA Regional Conservation Partnership Program, is led by LCRA and would fund the building of a conservation reservoir in Eagle Lake, Texas.  This reservoir would help provide critically-needed irrigation water to more than 50,000 acres of ricelands and provide habitat for waterfowl and other water birds.  The project was similar to one submitted last year requesting financial assistance from the NRCS to save 20,000 acre-feet of water/year within the Lakeside Irrigation District and increase water availability during drought years to the rice industry.  Unlike the other projects, this proposal would use a smaller portion of its funding for on-farm conservation practices through EQIP.

Collectively, the proposals will request $30 million in conservation financial assistance from NRCS with nearly the same level of funding through cash and in-kind contributions from the lead organizations and more than fifty partners.  

The Rice Stewardship Partnership celebrated the first year of implementation of their $10 million-project, Sustaining the Future of Rice, on July 1.


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