RIDGELAND, Miss. – Sept.14, 2022 – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USA Rice – Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership (RSP) will receive $80M in funding through its Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Through this new program, USDA finances innovative partnerships that create market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.
“While DU is synonymous with creating better habitat for ducks, the truth is that, for 85 years, the wetlands we’ve restored have provided cleaner water for communities, protection from flooding, sequestration of carbon, countless opportunities for outdoor recreation and much more,” said Dr. Karen Waldrop, DU Chief Conservation Officer. “The support from this grant will help DU and USA Rice continue that work on a greater scale and magnify our conservation impact across a landscape that is vital to the future of rice production and waterfowl habitat.”
In 2013, USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited forged a model of collaboration between a farm group and a conservation organization – the Rice Stewardship Partnership. For nearly a decade, this partnership has offered rice producers assistance to address water quantity, water quality and wildlife habitat on working ricelands. From 2020-2021, RSP impacted 728,021 rice acres in the U.S.
“The Climate Smart Commodities Grant marks a historic moment in the Rice Stewardship Partnership,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “Ducks Unlimited learned long ago that working together with landowners is the best way to optimize resources for the benefit of both waterfowl and people. If it’s good for rice, odds are it’s also good for ducks. This funding will allow DU and our partners to take this already highly successful program to the next level, and we appreciate Secretary Vilsack and USDA for their leadership in this tremendous investment.”
Rice is the world's third largest crop commodity, providing nearly 20% of the calories consumed by humankind every day. Rice is also the most important food resource for North American waterfowl. The benefits provided to waterfowl and people are irreplaceable and necessary to maintain and enhance wetland wildlife populations. Rice not collected during harvest is a high-energy food that resists decomposition when flooded, providing critical winter food for migrating waterfowl.
"Rice is the ultimate climate smart crop and the tremendous support we received today from USDA is welcome recognition of that,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “USA Rice is the lead partner for this $80 million grant and we look forward to working with Ducks Unlimited and our partners up and down the supply chain to enhance and strengthen the sustainability record of the U.S. rice industry."
RSP seeks to build on rice’s reputation as an environmentally friendly crop by helping producers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production and water consumption. Thanks to support from the Climate Smart Commodities grant, RSP project work will strive to reduce GHG emissions on 300,000 acres of working rice lands through irrigation strategies of alternate wetting and drying and furrow irrigation. It will increase efficiency in using fertilizers, crop protectants and energy. The benefits of these practices address more than 90% of the GHG footprint of rice production.
The project will also support historically underserved communities on an additional 100,000 acres by improving critical infrastructure necessary to implement climate smart practices.
“Rice growers are essential for North America’s waterfowl, “said Dr. Scott Manley, DU Director of Conservation Programs. “Rice farmers manage approximately 750,000 acres of winter-flooded habitats each year, providing 35% of food waterfowl need during the migration season. The support offered through the Climate Smart Commodities grant will help us continue critical crop and habitat work offered by the Rice Stewardship Partnership and direct efforts to support historically underserved agricultural communities.”
For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU’s Twitter feed – @DucksUnlimited and @DUConserve – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.
Rice Stewardship funders include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Mosaic Company Foundation, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Chevron U.S.A., RiceTec, Entergy, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, BASF, American Rice, Inc. – Riviana Foods, Inc., Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, Delta Plastics, Riceland Foods, Corteva Agriscience, Valley Irrigation, Cargill, Wells Fargo, Farmers Rice Milling Company, Horizon Ag, Turner’s Creek & Bombay Hook Farms, MacDon Industries, Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas, Ben Link Farms, and Ducks Unlimited major sponsors.