Top leaders from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were on hand recently to receive the California Rice Commission’s Circle of Life Award for their pioneering work to help improve wildlife habitat in the state’s rice fields.
The Circle of Life Award recognizes people and organizations that provide outstanding assistance to California rice. This year’s honor involves the NRCS’ partnership and collaboration with family rice farmers to initiate a California pilot version of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative Program.
“Conservation is a significant part of California rice farming, and the NRCS is one of our strongest partners,” says CRC President & CEO Tim Johnson. “We commend Chief Dave White and State Conservationist Ed Burton for working quickly and effectively to establish this program.”
In 2011, California rice growers successfully utilized $2.7 million in special NRCS funding to launch a new pilot conservation program suited for flooded agricultural lands such as rice.
The NRCS, in collaboration with PRBO Conservation Science, Audubon California and other conservation partners, provided planning, technical assistance and outreach to rice farmers to develop conservation practices that are expected to further enhance the value of rice fields as wildlife habitat. CRC helped coordinate and administer the program, which was offered on some 100,000 acres of rice and resulted in about 70 contracts on 28,000 acres. All of the funding will go directly to growers participating in the program over a three-year period.
This program will soon be open to most rice areas in the Sacramento Valley. The newest effort is known as the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program.
California ricelands are home to some 230 wildlife species and provide nearly 60 percent of the food for the seven million ducks and geese that migrate along the Pacific Flyway each winter. Visit calrice.org/Industry+Info/Conservation+Program.
Diesel Prices Impact Farmers
According to the CFBF, the increasing price of gasoline is pinching the bottom line for Americans, and farmers are feeling the same squeeze. The price of diesel fuel used in many farm activities, from field preparation to planting and harvest to delivery, has increased to nearly $4.50. The price California farmers pay for farm-use diesel is significantly higher than the national average, and some farmers anticipate that consumers will be affected as costs are absorbed at the retail level.
Lundberg Family Farms Celebrates 75 Years
Lundberg Family Farms, a leading manufacturer of organic rice and rice products, celebrated its 75th anniversary. The occasion arrives three-quarters of a century after Albert and Frances Lundberg fled the ravages of the Dust Bowl for the fertile soil of the Sacramento Valley.
“For a company that’s very focused on the future, it’s important that we take opportunities like our 75th anniversary to celebrate our past,” says Grant Lundberg, CEO of the company. “As a family business, the history of Lundberg Family Farms is really the history of our family, so celebrations like this take on special significance.”