“The Economic Ducks Unlimited Louisiana Impact of Ducks Unlimited in Louisiana”

For Ducks Unlimited conservation of working lands is guided by two objectives: to preserve vital wildlife habitats, and to sustain working ranches and farms on important landscapes. Its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) has proved to be a powerful tool to allow DU to accomplish both of these goals. It was established in the year 2014 under Farm Bill, RCPP is managed by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that describes it as an “partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land.”

The NRCS provides funds to projects identified by the agency as being led by knowledgeable partners who show the capability to make use of RCPP funds; the capability to oversee projects and assess results; and a commitment to effectively engage and support the farmers and ranchers who would like to use innovative conservation techniques or techniques that match their objectives.

As a key partner in many RCPP project, DU is well versed in meeting these requirements from beginning to end. DU field staff interact directly with ranchers and farmers to discuss the many conservation methods offered by RCPP and assist producers in selecting the best options that make feasible for their operation. DU aids them to apply to be Ducks Unlimited Louisiana in this program (a procedure that is extremely complicated) and sign contracts with NRCS after approval. In addition, DU provides financial and technical Ducks Unlimited Louisiana to owners implement conservation measures on their land and assess their progress in the future.

A variety of RCPP projects have been completed under the aegis of the America Rice-Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership, a partnership that is focused on preserving working rice land, water resources and wetland wildlife in six states that grow rice. So far, the partnership has raised more than $110 million to fund projects that impact more than 830,000 acres. RCPP has been the key to the success of this project, according to the Dr. Scott Manley, director of agricultural support in the DU’s Southern Region. “RCPP has brought together supply chain partners across the rice industry–from the person who grows it to the person who consumes it and everybody in between. It’s given us more holistic conservation projects that promote the most effective local solutions.”

Manley declares that she believes that Nutrient Management as well as the Gulf Coast Rice Production Project which assists rice farmers in southwest Louisiana deal with nutritional deficiencies in sandy soils in the coast, provides a great illustration of the RCPP’s positive impact. The project was initially established in 2017 by the RCPP, this initiative was renewed to Ducks Unlimited Louisiana phase in 2019 because of its popularity and the success. The partnership will be awarded $1.2 million in funds, affecting more than 50,000 acres and help 70+ rice farmers in nutrient management. It is the Mosaic Company, which has supplied matching funds and has served as the largest producer in North America of fertilizer made of phosphate and potash is playing a significant part in the success of this partnership.

Manley states that it’s encouraging to know that the majority of producers who took part in the initial part of the project are planning to keep the nutrient management techniques they learned and perhaps Ducks Unlimited Louisiana them to the remainder of the farms they operate. This will help the DU mission. “If you want the farmers of the Gulf Coast to grow rice which is a vital sources of food and habitat for waterfowl to ensure that they are successful in it. This is what the RCPP project aims to do. “Soil wellbeing is the primary focus of an additional RCPP project that is currently being implemented throughout the Prairies of South Dakota, North Dakota as well as Montana. In September of 2020, NRCS announced an $8.7 million grant in the direction of DU in its Scaling the Health of Soils in the Prairie Pothole Region project. Further contributions by 20 of the three states pushed the total investment by $17 million. South Dakota is currently in its second year of applications while North Dakota is in the first year and Montana is in the process of finalizing NRCS agreement negotiations. DU along with its partner organizations assist producers and ranchers to improve their soil health by decreasing soil disturbance, diversifying their cropping systems, improving grasslands and wetlands, as well as building the infrastructure necessary for the Ducks Unlimited Louisiana of rotational grazing. DU the Regional Agronomist Brian Chatham has already received positive feedback from the producers who have experienced positive outcomes including better livestock, less costs for fertilizer, and greater yields on crops. He hopes that the positive results will encourage producers to continue the soil’s health and wellness even after the contract ends.

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