The USA Rice−Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023. DU, USA Rice, and many other partners have made great progress in the shared mission to conserve three of the nation’s most important natural resources—working rice lands, water, and wildlife.

USA Rice, DU, the California Rice Commission, and Delta Wildlife have built a field team of more than 25 professionals, all of whom possess great expertise and experience with on-farm conservation. These partners have worked on more than 1,000 rice farms, which collectively span over 825,000 acres, improving the environmental performance and bottom lines of producers. Twenty-five supply chain financial sponsors have contributed more than $12 million to leverage conservation impacts and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation investments. Seven top-tier sponsors have contributed more than 85 percent of these funds, including Walmart Foundation, Nestlé Purina PetCare, The Mosaic Company, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chevron USA, Anheuser-Busch, and RiceTec. Members of this innovative partnership have worked seamlessly with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in all major rice-growing states to deliver initiatives totaling over $110 million in financial assistance to rice producers.


Looking ahead, agriculture has been recognized as a key solution to solving global climate change. Historic funding for climate-smart agriculture has been allocated and will continue to be delivered through federal legislation. The Rice Stewardship Partnership is once again in a lead position with its recent Climate-Smart Commodities grant award of $80 million. In addition, the partnership is growing its working relationships with historically underserved agricultural communities by forging partnerships with the National Black Growers Council and other representative organizations. NRCS budgets for key working lands conservation programs, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, are set to increase nine-fold by 2026. 

There is much to celebrate, but there is also much more to accomplish. Thanks go to our field staff, supply-chain financial sponsors, and the NRCS for the solid foundation they have helped to build. The momentum and the economic and environmental impact will continue today, tomorrow, and in the future.