Louisiana, Texas rice lands conservation proposals receive $6 million in funding

usa rice du partnership logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has approved nearly $6 million for two Regional Conservation Partnership Program proposals focused on water and habitat in Texas and Louisiana rice lands.

Established in the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects designed and delivered by partnerships. The two proposals were led by Ducks Unlimited and supported by more than 17 collaborating partners, according to a news release.

Rice agriculture provides critical habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife. USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited formalized the collaborative Rice Stewardship Partnership in 2013 to sustain the future of water, working rice lands and waterfowl in the United States.

Texas and Louisiana provide continentally important habitat for waterfowl in two of DU’s top conservation priorities – the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

The Cultivating Water Conservation on Working Lands project will restore cypress-tupelo brakes in seven parishes in Louisiana. By restoring brakes on working agricultural lands to capture surface water and storm runoff, farmers can improve water quality and improve habitat for wildlife while reducing pumping costs and groundwater use. This project will be supported with $450,000 in RCPP funding.

“The partnership between NRCS, DU and USA Rice offers increased technical and financial assistance to help producers accomplish conservation goals on their land. But the tangible benefits to farmers, the environment and all Americans will be realized far into the future,” NRCS Louisiana State Conservationist Kevin Norton said in the release.

The Gulf Coast Water and Wildlife Conservation project will help rice producers in Louisiana and Texas conserve natural resources while having long-term positive impacts on their bottom line.

Project partners will assist NRCS and Texas River Authorities in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and address water quantity and habitat concerns in the Gulf Coast. It will be supported with $5.43 million in RCPP funding.

“These projects focus on water, our most valuable natural resource in Texas,” NRCS State Conservationist for Texas Salvador Salinas said in the release. “With our state’s population projected to nearly double by 2050 we must act now to ensure water is available for future generations.”

Rice Stewardship funders include the USDA NRCS, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Mosaic Company Foundation, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Chevron U.S.A., Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, RiceTec, BASF, American Rice Inc. – Riviana Foods Inc., Delta Plastics, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Wells Fargo, Farmers Rice Milling Co., Horizon Ag, Turner’s Creek & Bombay Hook Farms, MacDon Industries, Dow AgroSciences, Riceland Foods and DU major sponsors.

Read more about the RCPP and rice producers in the April 2017 Rice Farming cover story, ‘A ducky partnership.’