Sustaining the Future of Rice
USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU) recently announced the rollout of their National Rice Regional Conservation Partnership (RCPP) project. The RCPP offers rice producers from every major rice-growing county in each of the six rice-growing states the assistance needed to address water quantity, water quality, and wildlife habitat on their farms. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing $10 million in funding to the project, leveraged by $6.8 million of cash and in-kind contributions from private sector partners. RCPP is a natural fit for the rice industry to further its conservation goals.
The partnership has worked tirelessly to get this innovative project kicked off in a timely manner. As of August 10th, rice farmers in Arkansas and Mississippi can submit applications for the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through their local NRCS offices; with a deadline of October 16, 2015. The four remaining rice-growing states that are included in the scope of the project are California, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas. The other states will open their EQIP sign-up periods later this summer or in the fall. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is also part of the project and will open sign-ups in each state in early 2016. Several conservation practices from the EQIP and CSP programs that are geared toward rice production will be offered (i.e. drainage water management, irrigation land leveling, irrigation reservoir construction, wetland wildlife management, etc.).
The project has 40+ collaborating partners from every sector—from the field to the market—and we have estimated that up to 65,000 acres throughout the six states will benefit from the project. The collaboration is fortunate to have such willing producers and partners to help make this a success.
The Climate Trust serves as a greenhouse gas advisor on the project and is excited to see it come to fruition. The Trust has also been actively supporting the approval of the California Rice Cultivation Carbon Offset Protocol, which materialized on June 25, 2015 as another powerful tool in the toolbox for fighting climate change.
The newly released RCPP program brochure provides detailed information on rice conservation and includes maps associated with the project.