ABBEVILLE, LA – Conservation and rice farming have always gone together, especially here at Live Oak Farm in Vermilion Parish. The farm’s owners, the Godchaux family, have been an integral part of the Louisiana and U.S. rice industries for multiple generations as original founders of Riviana Foods. The family continues to produce rice on this picturesque property of mossy covered oaks and prairie marshland south of Abbeville, located along the Vermilion River, just north of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The nearly six-thousand acre paradise is recognized as one of the southernmost remaining rice farms in Louisiana and is a significant resource for migratory birds, with more than 70,000 waterfowl wintering on this acreage annually.
This week, Charles Payne, a partner in farming operations at Live Oak, along with members from the Louisiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The Conservation Fund, and the Land Trust for Louisiana held an event to announce the conservation easement project, in which Live Oak Farm
will become the first approved Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) in the state of Louisiana.
Representing the Godchaux family, Payne opened the event by explaining the reasons behind the ALE and the lasting legacy this will provide for the farm to remain in agricultural production, all while protecting the wildlife habitat here in perpetuity.
“While this process has taken many years and long hours to get here, it’s been worth it to know the property will remain productive and provide pristine habitat for generations to come,” said Payne.
Tim Landreneau with NRCS-LA gave an overview of the project, along with Sarah Howard of The Conservation Fund and Cindy Brown of the Land Trust for Louisiana, who all worked in partnership with the family to secure permanent protection of the farm through conservation easements.
Live Oak, like many farms in southwest Louisiana, provides important habitat for waterfowl and other water-dependent birds along the coast. Rice production on the privately-held land will continue to be an important driver in Louisiana’s economy and a part of the cultural heritage of south Louisiana. The Land Trust for Louisiana will hold the easements on Live Oak Farm and monitor these easements in perpetuity.
On hand for the celebration were fellow rice farmers from the area, along with representatives from Kennedy Rice Mill, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the McIlhenny Company, Ducks Unlimited, and the Audubon Society.