USA Rice Federation calls it a groundbreaking new partnership between the federation and Ducks Unlimited (DU) as the two organizations have forged a model of cooperation and communication for mutual benefit. The USA Rice-DU Stewardship Partnership will address rice production, waterfowl and water conservation projects, programs and policies that are beneficial to both organizations and to the public.

There is a unique, interconnected relationship of rice production, waterfowl and water, noted USA Rice Producers’ Group Chairman Linda Raun, a Texas rice producer. “We are enthusiastic to work together to preserve and expand the values and benefits that waterfowl, rice fields and water contribute to society,” she said.

To achieve objectives, the organizations will identify and pursue public policies, funding sources, communications strategies and strategically developed research and management practices that advance mutual interests, it was explained. 

It was explained in the announcement that many wildlife species rely on the habitat created by rice farmers, making rice a unique working-lands crop. Winter-flooded rice fields lying along critical flyways provide food and cover resources that are vital resting and foraging habitat for migratory and wintering waterfowl. In 2012, the American rice industry reportedly planted approximately 2.67 million acres of rice.

“We will work together and build upon our common interests and challenges to sustain waterfowl and rice production on the landscape,” said Al Montna, DU’s partnership co-chair.

The Rice Foundation, a separate rice-industry organization dedicated to industry-related research, sponsored a DU project to estimate the biological and economic contributions that rice fields make in support of North American waterfowl populations. DU's Mark Petrie, Ph.D., is conducting the research, which is scheduled for completion this year.