Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New tool helps farmers connect with conservation programs

Betsy Ward
By Betsy Ward
President and CEO
USA Rice

Farmers know more than anyone the importance of good tools. To get the job done, you need the right tools, and if you don’t have them, the work will be harder, take longer and won’t yield the same results.

We at USA Rice understand all too well how low farm-gate prices, rising input costs and our country’s many trade disputes are taking their toll on the rice community. As one grower recently remarked to me, “If something doesn’t change quick, there may be a lot fewer of us around this table next year.”

Because we are committed to help the rice industry stay profitable, we set out to create a new tool for farmers to help you find a match. It’s kind of like a dating app – but instead of connecting you with potential spouses, this connects you with conservation programs.

These programs, both public and private, are an excellent way to offset your costs. Whether via financial assistance or technology, they provide resources that can significantly reduce your bottom line.

But the process of finding and enrolling in conservation programs is not always so simple. There are a lot of resources out there to take advantage of that many farmers might not know about.

As easy as a Google search

That’s why I’m so excited about USA Rice’s new Conservation Program Search tool. With the new season upon us, you’re making scores of decisions for your farm every day, and this search tool makes the process of finding and implementing conservation programs that provide assistance to your operation as quick and easy as a Google search.

Simply by visiting the USA Rice website, users can search for programs by state, program type, topic, funding authority or keyword to determine the conservation program that’s the best fit for their farm. The options for program assistance available to farmers are wide ranging, including soil management practices like crop rotation, cover crops or no-till systems; providing habitat for wildlife, such as migratory birds; upgrades to irrigation, wells, pumps and sprinklers to streamline water use; and reducing overall on-farm energy use with alternative energy sources, fuel efficiency and emissions reductions.

Test drive the conservation search tool

geese in a winter rice field
USA Rice’s new search tool helps growers find programs that offer financial incentives for providing wildlife habitat — photo courtesy Natural Resources Conservation Service

This landmark resource is the result of countless hours of research and design, and I couldn’t be prouder of the hard work the USA Rice team put in to make these many program options easily accessible to rice growers. Never before have these resources been so centralized, and we owe thanks to Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for helping make it all possible.

I often speak about the pride the rice industry takes in our conservation efforts and sustainability record. These programs are another way for growers to further those efforts, and to be recognized and compensated for them.

I encourage every grower to explore what the Conservation Program Search has to offer today. It’s a fantastic tool to add to your arsenal as you continue to lead the industry in sustainability, and I hope you take advantage of it.

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