Ducks Unlimited Receives Historic Support for RSP Through Climate-Smart Commodities Grant
Today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USA Rice – Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership (RSP) will receive $80 million in funds through its Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Through this new program, USDA funds 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 have restored have provided communities with cleaner water, flood protection, carbon sequestration, countless opportunities for outdoor recreation and much more. said Dr. Karen Waldrop, DU director of conservation. “Support from this grant will help DU and USA Rice continue that work on a larger scale and magnify our conservation impact on 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 an agricultural group and a conservation organization: the Rice Stewardship Partnership. For nearly a decade, this association has offered assistance to rice farmers to address water quantity, water quality, and wildlife habitat in working rice fields. From 2020-2021, RRP shocked 728,021 acres of rice in the US
“The Climate-Smart Commodity Grant marks a historic moment at the Rice Stewardship Association,” said DU Executive Director Adam Putnam. “Ducks Unlimited learned a long time 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, chances are it’s good for ducks too. 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 third largest crop product in the world, providing almost 20% of the calories consumed by humanity every day. Rice is also the most important food resource for waterfowl in North America. The benefits provided to waterfowl and people are irreplaceable and necessary to maintain and enhance wetland wildlife populations. Rice that is not harvested at harvest is a high-energy food that resists spoilage when flooded, providing critical winter food for migratory waterfowl.
“Rice is the ultimate climate-smart crop and the tremendous support we receive today from the USDA is a welcome recognition of that,” said USA Rice President and 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 throughout the supply chain to enhance and strengthen the US rice industry’s record on sustainability.”
RSP seeks to build on rice’s reputation as an environmentally friendly crop by helping farmers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production and water consumption. With support from the Climate Smart Commodities grant, RSP project work will strive to reduce GHG emissions in 300,000 acres of working rice fields through alternate wetting and drying and furrow irrigation strategies. It will increase the efficiency in the use of fertilizers, crop protectors 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 needed to implement climate-smart practices.
“Rice farmers are essential to North American waterfowl,” said Dr. Scott Manley, DU Director of Conservation Programs. “Rice farmers manage approximately 750,000 acres of winter-flooded habitat each year, providing 35% of the food needed by waterfowl during migration season. The support offered through the Climate Smart Commodities grant will help us continue the critical farming and habitat work offered by the Rice Stewardship Partnership and direct efforts to support historically underserved farming communities.”
About unlimited ducks
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world‘The largest non-profit organization in North America dedicated to the conservation of rapidly disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to the contributions of more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information about our work, visit www.patos.org.
Sponsors of the Rice Stewardship include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, the Mosaic Company Foundation, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Chevron USA, RiceTec, Entergy, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Irene W. and CB 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 are major sponsors.