USA Rice Recognizes Leaders in Conservation and Sustainability

Sunset-at-California rice field, Lundberg photo
Honoring those for excellent stewardship of the land that produces our favorite grain
Dec 11, 2023
INDIAN WELLS, CA – The U.S. rice industry bolsters its longstanding commitment to conservation and sustainability each year by recognizing industry leaders to showcase their stewardship efforts in preserving wildlife habitat and efficient use of natural resources.

At the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon for the 2023 USA Rice Outlook Conference last Thursday, California rice grower and chair of the USA Rice Conservation Committee Leo LaGrande presented the 2023 Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award to Paul Bonderson, founder of Brocade Communications Systems, and a past chair and past president of Ducks Unlimited.

“As we were working to identify who to honor with this award, we focused on those who were instrumental in the creation of the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership that celebrated its 10th anniversary this year,” said LeGrande.  “Without Paul’s dedicated efforts this partnership would have never come to fruition, and now his brainchild is the gold standard for commodity groups and conservation organization partnerships across the United States.”
In 2016, Paul started a crusade to raise $1 billion to create wetland habitat to benefit waterfowl and wildlife.  Those efforts have impacted more than 800,000 acres of rice and rice rotation ground across the U.S., and provided more than $108 million in additional funds for rice farmers to implement working lands conservation on their operations on more than 1,000 rice farms.

The USA Rice Sustainability Award was created in 2016 to recognize the efforts of all segments of the industry to not only conserve natural resources, but to find innovative ways to address all three pillars of sustainability:  environmental, economic, and social sustainability.  A subcommittee of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee chooses the winner based on several criteria, including leadership in the industry and broader sustainability community, and a history of promoting and advancing sustainability through innovative practices.

Lundberg Family Farms received the 2023 USA Rice Sustainability Award in recognition of the company’s goal, to grow the best tasting, highest quality rice possible, while leaving the planet better than they found it.

“We’ve been through all kinds of changes over four generations of the Lundberg family, but every generation has worked towards that same goal,” said Bryce Lundberg a board member and vice president of Agriculture at Lundberg Family Farms.  “Every one of us puts everything we have into growing exceptional food, all so your meals are as good as what we serve at our own tables.”

Each winter, Lundberg Family Farms floods a portion of their fields to replicate the region’s natural historical wetlands to create habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds, and to help create food for endangered salmon populations.  They also incorporate cover crops to sequester carbon, restore nutrients to the soil, reduce weeds, and prevent erosion.  Operationally, the Lundbergs have installed numerous solar arrays to offset energy usage from their drying and storage facilities, administration buildings, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities.  Their Richvale, California-based manufacturing facilities have been powered by 100 percent renewable electricity for 20 years!

“Our founder, Albert Lundberg, came to California in 1937 and knew caring for the land was the only sustainable path forward,” said Bryce.  “He committed to farming in partnership with nature, and every generation since has followed in his trailblazing footsteps.”