• What’s Good for Rice is Good for Ducks and It’s All Good to Eat

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 16, 2017
    DU-USA Rice Luncheon: Can you spot the decoys?
    WASHINGTON, DC – The annual Ducks Unlimited-USA Rice Congressional Luncheon took place here yesterday, with more than 200 USA Rice Government Affairs Conference attendees and Congressional staff and Members mixing and talking rice and politics.

    The menu consisted of several U.S.-grown rice and duck dishes including sushi, arancini, and spicy duck and andouille sausage gumbo served over rice.

    “We’ve been hustling from meeting to meeting, on the Hill and off the Hill, for a day and a half now.  It’s nice to have a slightly more casual setting to visit with Congressional staff and grab a bite that really lets us naturally talk about the great conservation story rice has thanks to the unique relationship between rice and ducks,” explained California rice farmer and Chairman of the USA Rice Conservation Committee Leo LeGrande.

    “It’s great to bring everyone together to showcase our Rice Stewardship Partnership here in Washington,” said Kellis Moss, DU’s director of public policy, who worked closely with USA Rice to coordinate the event.  “The folks in the field see the benefits rice provides for ducks everyday but it’s even better to have growers in town to help us tell our story and hopefully they’ll later act as our advocates when we need help with policy and legislation.”

    The break didn’t last long.  Soon after the luncheon, the USA Rice Hill teams were back on schedule with a host of meetings that took them right into the dinner hour.
  • Ducks Unlimited Snags Rice Industry’s Conservation Awards

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 09, 2016
    DU award winners receive well-deserved recognition
    MEMPHIS, TN – Yesterday, the rice industry’s ever growing role in the conservation and sustainability sphere was spotlighted during the annual awards luncheon of this year’s USA Rice Outlook Conference.

    Dr. Scott Manley, director of conservation innovation for Ducks Unlimited (DU) was the recipient of USA Rice’s 2016 Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award.  Manley works out of the DU Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Mississippi, where he oversees staff for the organization that who work directly on the National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP) project.

    Leo LaGrande, California rice farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee, said, “Scott was one of the architects behind bringing together USA Rice and DU to form the Rice Stewardship Partnership and as the son-in-law of a rice farming family and an avid waterfowl hunter, he has long been familiar with the synergistic benefits that rice and ducks provide for one another.”

    LaGrande added, “Scott has worked hard to make the partnership successful and is often joked about as a joint employee for both organizations.”

    The praise didn’t end there for DU as USA Rice presented a special award, the 2016 USA Rice Conservation Communications Award, to the Ducks Unlimited Communications Team that works closely with Manley on the Rice Stewardship Partnership’s outreach and education efforts.

    Award recipients include: Karen Almand, Graphic Designer; Clay Baird, Video Productions; Katie Burke, Heritage Center Curator; Andi Cooper, Southern Region Communications Specialist; and Greg Taras, Communications Productions.

    LaGrande highlighted the DU team’s credentials, saying, “Part of the challenge that our industry faces within the realm of conservation and sustainability is our effectiveness at telling our story in a way that connects with consumers and the general public.  This DU communications team has truly excelled at producing top-notch, professional resources that can be used by our sponsors, our farmers, and the media and they’ve been able to tout our successes in immeasurable ways.”

    This year marked the seventh time USA Rice has presented its Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award and the first time that a Conservation Communications Award has been given.

  • Rice Industry Floods Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center in Memphis

    by Katie Maher | Dec 07, 2016
    Rice and ducks: a model for sustainability
    MEMPHIS, TN -- This week, members of the U.S. rice industry are poring over the exhibit cases of the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center in the BassPro Shops at the Memphis Pyramid during the annual USA Rice Outlook Conference held here.  

    The special exhibit, dedicated to ricelands stewardship, opened to the public in September in conjunction with National Rice Month.  The interactive exhibit space provides educational opportunities that explain the unique, synergistic relationship between rice and ducks.

    USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward said, “We’re encouraging all of our attendees, while they’re in town this week, to visit the Waterfowling Heritage Center to better appreciate the intrinsic link between waterfowl and working ricelands, and to see an example of the conservation story we should be telling again and again to our consumers."

    Ward added, “This is a great opportunity for USA Rice to tout the success of the Rice Stewardship Partnership, the National Rice RCPP project, and other collaborations with an audience we may not typically be reaching through our regular communications channels.”

    The Heritage Center is a popular stop within the heavily-trafficked BassPro Shops with an annual attendance estimated at close to half a million visitors.  And just an elevator ride away is The Lookout restaurant atop The Pyramid that proudly serves U.S.-grown rice!
  • NRCS Hits ‘Go’ On Revamped Conservation Stewardship Program

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 14, 2016
    Jeff Durand
    WASHINGTON, DC – The USDA’s largest conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been “under construction” since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law nearly three years ago until the new version was released earlier today.

    The CSP provides landowners the opportunity to build on existing conservation efforts while strengthening their operation overall.  CSP helps landowners meet their environmental goals by addressing specific priority concerns within the span of the five-year contract.  Successful contracts are eligible to be renewed for an additional five years following their completion to maximize the environmental benefits to the land.  The CSP is made up of a combination of conservation practices and enhancements that go above and beyond the minimum standards and help to elevate the level of effectiveness.

    The 2014 Farm Bill instructed USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to revamp the CSP, particularly removing the complexity that made applying, rewarding, and maintaining contracts difficult for staff and landowners.  After collecting industry comments on the CSP draft rule, NRCS returned to the drawing board to develop and pilot test the new program until receiving the green light to begin training field staff this summer.  According to NRCS Chief Jason Weller, “[The new CSP] provides even more opportunities for conservation and greater flexibility at the local level to prioritize resource concerns and conservation approaches.  State and locally customized CSP tools will improve the customer experience during application evaluations.”

    In conjunction with the national roll-out of the revamped CSP, the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited’s Rice Stewardship Partnership is beginning the second phase of the National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project.  Earlier this year, the Partnership organized the signing of more than 200 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts for rice growers across the six rice-growing states.  The second portion of the project entails enrolling 120,000 acres of ricelands under the CSP in the same six states.

    Partnership co-chair and Louisiana rice farmer Jeff Durand said, “CSP contracts have historically been sought after by rice growers as astute stewards of their land but we’ve had a difficult time understanding the application process and what we as farmers get out of the enhancements we’ve selected to implement.”

    Durand added, “It’s exciting for rice farmers to not only have a clearer understanding of how applications are prioritized to be funded but also to have funds set-aside specifically for ricelands to help provide growers an opportunity to implement some of the more costly enhancements.”

    Applications will be accepted beginning today through ​December 30, 2016 at your local NRCS offices.  More information can be found here.
  • Rice Stewardship Partnership Report: Sky’s the Limit for Conservation Success

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 16, 2016
    ​Conservation is a family affair for the Daniels of MO
    ARLINGTON, VA -- The U.S. rice industry stands out among other commodities in a number of ways but most recently, the industry’s achievements in conservation and sustainability have been in the limelight.

    Keeping with the theme of September National Rice Month, earlier this month the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership published their first Annual Report to highlight some of the Partnership’s many accomplishments during 2016.  The 28-page booklet showcases what the Partnership has done during the first year of implementing the $10 million of funding for the National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Halfway through the life of the project, the Partnership has more than tripled its staff and signed more than 200 conservation program contracts across the six rice-growing states.

    Missouri rice farmer and USA Rice member Rance Daniels was one of three farmers featured in the report.  Daniels shared his enthusiasm for the Partnership’s involvement in the NRCS program saying, “RCPP is great, and we’re seeing so many companies and people wanting to get involved with what we’re doing, but I think the sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish for both groups, for working lands conservation, and waterfowl habitat.”

    Partnership co-chairs Jeff Durand and Al Montna included an update from their perspective and said they are optimistic, like Daniels, that the Partnership will continue to grow as partners, staff, and funding further develop.

    “The momentum initially surrounding the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership has certainly grown.  New opportunities for collaboration continue to develop. What’s good for rice is good for ducks, and working wetlands are equally good for people,” said co-chairs Durand and Montna.

    The Rice Stewardship Partnership is made possible by funders, including:  USDA-NRCS; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Walmart Foundation; the Mosaic Company Foundation; Chevron U.S.A.; Freeport-McMoRan Foundation; Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation; RiceTec; BASF; American Rice, Inc. – Riviana Foods, Inc.; Wells Fargo; Farmers Rice Milling Company; Horizon Ag; Turner’s Creek & Bombay Hook Farms; and MacDon Industries.

    The Rice Stewardship Partnership 2016 Annual Report can be found online.
  • Walmart Foundation Throws Support to Conservation of Ricelands

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 08, 2016
    Supporting stewardship
    MEMPHIS, TN – More rice producers will have the opportunity to increase sustainability and profitability on their farms thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation.  The grant supports work through the USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership.

    “We are thrilled to announce a $1 million grant from the Walmart Foundation for our Rice Stewardship work in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and along the Gulf Coast,” said DU Senior Director of Development Chris Cole.

    In late 2014, USA Rice and DU secured a $10 million award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The majority of the RCPP award is dedicated to financial assistance for producers who implement conservation practices on their lands through Farm Bill programs.

    “The Stewardship Partnership is the delivery mechanism to provide in-person conservation technical assistance to the tremendous number of rice farmers interested in participating in the programs,” said Josh Hankins, USA Rice stewardship partnership coordinator.  “Only a small percentage of the RCPP award is dedicated to fund staffing for this role so we’re continuing to seek additional, outside funding to better provide the support needed on the ground to rice growers interested in implementing suites of conservation practices on their farms.”
    There are also no RCPP funds to promote conservation efforts to a broader, historically underserved population or to scale conservation practices beyond those currently funded by scarce federal dollars.  These are the two areas where the Walmart Foundation’s grant will have the most impact.

    Walmart Foundation funding will be used primarily for technical assistance to and training for farm owners, operators, and workers.  Conservation projects on ricelands will also improve rural economies by using locally sourced contractors and supplies.

    “The challenge here is to conserve three critical natural resources in North America:  working ricelands, water, and wetland wildlife.  The support of groups like the Walmart Foundation is critical to our ability to make this level of change happen,” Hankins said.

    Rice Stewardship funders include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Mosaic Company Foundation, Chevron U.S.A., Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, RiceTec, BASF, American Rice, Inc. – Riviana Foods, Inc., Wells Fargo, Farmers Rice Milling Company, Horizon Ag, Turner’s Creek & Bombay Hook Farms, and MacDon Industries.
  • Skyrocketing Support for RCPP in Missouri

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 30, 2015
    Blake Gerard
    Blake Gerard
    COLUMBIA, MO – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, Sustaining the Future of Rice, recently received further affirmation of its popularity among growers when the November 20 EQIP application deadline for Louisiana and Missouri saw more than 260 applications submitted across 63,800 acres for Missouri alone!  

    The project is sponsored by USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited through their Rice Stewardship Partnership, along with more than forty supporting partners.  Covering the six major rice-growing states, the project has been dubbed the “National Rice RCPP project,” funding approximately $10 million worth of conservation improvements on ricelands using the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    Project implementation began earlier this fall with more than 300 EQIP applications collected in Arkansas and Mississippi.  The tremendous turnout in Missouri applications comes following the first Rice Conservation Field Day in Portageville earlier this month.

    Blake Gerard, Missouri rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice Farmers, said, “The application numbers are overwhelming.  Although everything can’t be funded, I think it speaks volumes about the demand for conservation funding to see hundreds of applications come out of only seven counties in our state.”

    Gerard added, “Rice farmers in Missouri are looking forward to working with USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited throughout the coming years to continue funding these environmentally and economically beneficial projects on their operations.”

    An EQIP application period for California and Texas will be announced later this winter.  The planning process is currently underway and applications for CSP will be announced in late 2016.
  • In Arkansas and Mississippi, EQIP Aplenty

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 06, 2015
    Well EQIP-ed
    Combine in Mud
    ARLINGTON, VA – USA Rice along with Ducks Unlimited and more than 40 other partners are celebrating their most recent milestone as part of the Sustaining the Future of Rice project and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of two programs utilized by the project, collected a total of 334 applications when the sign-up period closed last month in Arkansas and Mississippi.  

    The other conservation program used within the project is the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    The project includes implementation of conservation practices on working ricelands in the six primary rice-growing states using a $10 million investment from the NRCS and $6.8 million in private funds.

    USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely said, “These numbers have far exceeded our expectations and we’re confident that with a deep pool of applicants in both states we’ll be able to fund projects on the most environmentally sensitive rice-growing acres for the most effective results possible.”

    Applicants selected in this round of funding will be notified in early 2016 so they can begin implementing practices immediately.  

    The EQIP sign-up period for Louisiana and Missouri is open until Friday, November 20.  Sign-up in California and Texas is anticipated to begin later this winter and CSP sign-ups in all six states will happen late in 2016.

    Farmers in Louisiana and Missouri interested in learning more about EQIP and submitting an application should consult their local county or parish NRCS offices prior to the submission deadline.
  • RCPP EQIP Sign-up Period Closing Soon in Arkansas and Mississippi

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 23, 2015
    Application form
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There are less than four weeks left until the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) sign-up period closes in both Arkansas and Mississippi on Friday, October 16. This special EQIP sign-up is being held as part of the National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Project, led by the USA Rice – Ducks Unlimited (DU) Stewardship Partnership.

    RCPP is funded through the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The USA Rice-DU project matches private and federal funding to help pay for conservation work completed through NRCS’s EQIP and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    USA Rice and DU were awarded $10 million in Federal funding with $6.8 million contributed by nearly 40 partner organizations and businesses earlier this year.

    Ben Mosely, USA Rice’s vice president of government affairs said, “this EQIP sign-up is focused on rice acres and farmers who regularly plant rice crops. Ranking of applications addresses three priority concerns – water quantity, water quality, and waterfowl habitat.” Mosely continued, “applications that address all three concerns will be ranked as a high priority for funding. Within the concern of water quantity, Irrigation Water Management (EQIP Practice 449) is a focal point.”

    Mosely is encouraging Arkansas and Mississippi rice farmers to get their applications in to their local NRCS offices as soon as possible to ensure they are considered for funding. A flyer outlining the project’s acceptable practices and a brief summary can be found here.

  • USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership Texas Reservoir Project Clears First Hurdle

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 10, 2015
    Working on a solution to Texas water woes
    Lane City Reservoir Project Map
    ARLINGTON, VA – The newest project sought by the USA Rice–Ducks Unlimited (DU) Rice Stewardship Partnership has cleared a major hurdle with the announcement by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that the groups’ pre-proposal has been chosen to advance to the next round of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  

    USA Rice and DU have partnered with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) on the proposed $10 million project, the new Prairie Conservation Reservoir in Eagle Lake, Texas, to benefit rice growers, migratory waterfowl, and waterbirds.  The project complements an existing LCRA construction project – the Lane City Reservoir, the region’s first significant new water reservoir in decades.

    The USA Rice-DU project was selected from amongst 265 pre-proposals to advance to the full proposal stage.  Submitted pre-proposals were seeking some $1.8 billion in funding and were offering $1.27 billion in contributions.  The total funding available for this round of the RCPP projects is just $235 million, so the competition will be intense. 

  • USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Begin RCPP Project Implementation

    by Colleen Klem | Aug 07, 2015
    Application formIt's time
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited (DU) will officially kick off implementation of their Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) joint project, “Sustaining the Future of Rice”, that was announced in January 2015.

    RCPP is funded through the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The USA Rice-DU project matches private and federal funding to help pay for conservation work completed through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

    USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited were awarded $10 million in Federal funding with $6.8 million contributed by nearly 40 partner organizations and businesses.

    “Our two organizations have worked very hard over the last year-and-a-half to make sure this project is a success,” said Jeff Durand, a Louisiana rice grower and the USA Rice chairman of the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership.  “It’s important that as many rice farmers sign-up and submit applications as possible this year to make sure they get a chance to participate.”

    California rice grower and the Ducks Unlimited chairman of the partnership, Al Montna, echoed his enthusiasm for the project.

    “We cannot stress enough the close relationship between waterfowl and the rice industry and how much they need each other,” he said.  “What’s good for rice is good for ducks, and vice versa, and the RCPP is a natural fit for our vital conservation efforts.  We look forward to continuing this strong, successful partnership beyond this first project.”

    Next week’s implementation will begin with sign-ups opening for EQIP applications for ricelands in Arkansas and Mississippi. Applications will be due to local NRCS offices in qualifying counties by October 16, 2015 to be ranked and awarded funding.

    “This is a two-year project, but funding is limited and we want to ensure farmers have enough time to install the necessary EQIP practices,” said Durand.

    The other four states covered by the partnership: California, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, will begin their EQIP sign-ups later this fall. Sign-up for CSP is set to begin in each of the six rice states late in 2016.

  • Field Day Features USA Rice Presentations

    by Colleen Klem | Jul 02, 2015
     Rice farmer Ray Stoesser (l) in talks with USA Rice's Ben Mosely
    EAGLE LAKE, TX -- USA Rice staff Betsy Ward and Ben Mosely addressed Texas farmers at the dinner and program following the Eagle Lake Rice Field Day this week. 
    Ward gave an overview of USA Rice work on behalf of rice farmers and specifically addressed trade issues critical to the rice industry like the TPP negotiations, Iraq, China, and domestic and international promotion initiatives. 
    Mosely outlined USA Rice's work with Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on implementation of the farm bill, and plans to submit a pre-proposal next week for a small reservoir here as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The project will be executed in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited and the Lower Colorado River Authority, among several other partners, as a way to reduce groundwater usage on rice fields and in managed waterfowl habitat.
    "Visiting farmers helps us develop our message to Congress and federal agencies," said Ward.  "Rice is a small commodity and our goal is to speak to policymakers and influencers with one voice so that the industry delivers a strong, clear message.  We want to keep fighting above our weight class for farmers in Texas and across the rice states."
    Ward and Mosely also answered questions on recent changes to farm policy and trade from members of the Texas Rice Producers' Legislative Group and the Texas Rice Producers' Board and heard from both groups about the important issues on the ground.

  • USA Rice Addresses Annual LAFBF Meeting

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 30, 2015
    USA Rice's Ben Mosely
    Ben Mosely
    NEW ORLEANS, LA -- The Rice Advisory Committee of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation (LAFBF) held its annual meeting in conjunction with the 93rd annual LAFBF convention last Saturday.  USA Rice's Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely updated attendees on a range of public policy issues, most notably:  implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, trade, and the ongoing efforts of the USA Rice/Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership.
    Mosely outlined USA Rice's success in the last farm bill considering the relatively small commodity size of rice.  He also provided updates on PLC/ARC enrollment, comments submitted for the actively engaged provision, incentive-based conservation programs, and several other pertinent programs and provisions. 
    The presentation Saturday was just in time to announce the passage of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill by Congress which Mosely said will clear the way for the real work to begin by USA Rice on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  USA Rice supported the passage of TPA and will be working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United States Trade Representative on the role that rice may play in TPP negotiations throughout the rest of the summer. 
    Mosely wrapped up with an overview and update on the Rice Stewardship Partnership where he described USA Rice's involvement as "waist-deep in their first Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project where they'll be implementing rice-specific conservation practices in all six rice-growing states."  The Partnership is looking at other outlets to both further the funding and the mission of the organizations including a second joint RCPP proposal. 
    Getting policy staff in the field is crucial to understanding the unique needs of farmers and it's something Mosely truly enjoys.  
    His efforts were appreciated as Richard Fontenot, a LAFBF vice president and chairman of the Rice Advisory Committee said, "Our members were excited about the diverse but substantial subject matter Ben presented, and we received a lot of complimentary remarks from members of the Rice Advisory Committee following his presentation."
    Kyle McCann, LAFBF associate commodities director, said, "Many of our members are not typically engaged in national agricultural policy issues and they were appreciative that Ben was able to provide such helpful insight and in a manner that related to issues they experience on their own rice operations." 
    "Visiting firsthand with growers and discussing issues that directly affect operations is so important for us and the work we do representing the U.S. rice industry in Washington," Mosley said.  "I want to thank LAFBF for inviting me to take part in their annual meeting. We look forward to seeing everyone again when we return to New Orleans December 9-11 for our own annual USA Rice Outlook Conference."
  • USA Rice Attends Field to Market Plenary Session

    by Colleen Klem | Jun 12, 2015
    From Durand's field to your market
     From Durand's field to your market

    WASHINGTON, DC-- Field to Market held its latest Plenary Session here this week with USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited serving as co-sponsors. During the meeting, the future of the organization was discussed.
    Specifically, attendees examined the proposed business model that will move the organization forward with a modest financial and staff growth while expanding its influence in the area of sustainability.

    The Plenary kicked off with growers sharing ideas from each of their respective commodities on innovative conservation and sustainability practices.

    Louisiana rice grower Jeff Durand spoke on behalf of the rice industry and gave advice on how to successfully integrate conservation practices on the farm. Durand also shared his experiences with conservation efforts used in his operation including the unique relationship between rice fields and migratory birds.

    "We have to make sure practices being put forward are well researched and can turn a profit," he said.

    Field to Market is also moving forward with a rice-specific Fieldprint Calculator and a greenhouse gas metric for rice field outputs.   

    USA Rice is a voting member of Field to Market and has several rice industry experts participating on many of the organization's workgroups. USA Rice plans to continue to be actively engaged with Field to Market as its rice-specific metrics come to fruition.
  • USDA Announces $235 Million in Funding for RCPP

    by User Not Found | May 07, 2015
    Bird sanctuary
    USDA Announces 235M for RCPP
    WASHINGTON, DC -- Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an investment of $235 million in funding to be applied towards the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The RCPP, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, is a conservation initiative administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that enables local leaders across the country to implement programs that will preserve natural resources in their region.

    The first round of projects funded through the RCPP was announced earlier this year. USDA awarded $394 million to the first round of RCPP participants in all 50 states that helped fund 115 projects.

    The rice industry will benefit significantly from the first round of RCPP funding. RCPP grants were awarded to California and Louisiana in addition to a $10 million national grant to USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited.  

    “These funds are specifically set aside for rice producers and will be used to help them install NRCS approved conservation practices.  The initial Rice RCPP was the first time of its kind and that got attention at NRCS,” said USA Rice’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely.

    Mosely added, “We’re in the process of implementing the first award and hope to have growers signing up late summer or early fall and we’re already working on a new proposal for the second phase of the RCPP. We plan to build on that platform of the rice industry’s commitment to on-farm management practices that address water quantity, water quality and wildlife habitat.”

    USDA plans to invest $1.2 billion in conservation projects through 2018. The deadline to submit an RCPP proposal is July 8, 2015.

    Contact:  Colleen Klemczewski (703) 236-1446