Rice and ducks conservation project moves to next step
A massive fundraising effort has begun for the unique and groundbreaking multi-state conservation proposal from the USA Rice Federation and Ducks Unlimited.
The USA Rice Daily reported earlier this month that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) selected the proposal to advance to the next stage, along with 230 other proposals
Now, according to the organizations, the hard part begins.
“The successful conservation programs that will ultimately be chosen and funded by the NRCS are going to have to demonstrate a great deal of industry support and buy in,” said Jeff Durand, a Louisiana rice farmer and co-chairman of the USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership Committee.
“We are asking for $20 million for our program from the agency, and we committed to raise $8 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry, allied companies, and other interests.”
Durand says support for the USA Rice-DU program will pay excellent dividends over both the long and short term.
“We know what’s good for rice is good for ducks and vice versa,” he said. “But what’s good for both of them, is also good for the environment as a whole. The critical habitat U.S. rice farms provide for waterfowl and other species is valued at more than $3.5 billion to replace. And today, rice farmers are bearing about $70 million in wetland maintenance and upkeep costs that a lot of people take for granted.”
USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited are sending out fundraising letters and asking their member organizations to do the same - to customers, end users, and allied groups - to support the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposal.
Created by the Farm Bill, the RCPPs will fund conservation partners who can increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.
“There are many worthy conservation projects out there, but given the geographic scope of ours, and the enormous return on investment we’re offering, I think our proposal stands out,” said Al Montna, a California rice farmer, DU Board member, and the other co-chair of the Stewardship Partnership Committee. “Our proposal’s three priority-resource concerns in order are: water quantity, water quality, and wildlife habitat. If those are important to you, you should get on board with our proposal.”
People interested in learning more can contact DU’s Scott Manley at (601) 956-1936 or USA Rice’s Reece Langley at (703) 236-1471, or download a copy of the fundraising letter and pledge form.