Dec 4, 2023
California rice producer teams up with CWA to save ducks
By Julie Do
(Originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of California Waterfowl)
Ever heard of Lundberg Family Farms? If the name sounds familiar, it might be because it is a leading grower of organic rice. You've probably seen the brand’s popular packaged rice and rice snacks in grocery stores, and it also sells to world-class chefs and restaurants, including Momofuku.
Located in Richvale, California, the family-owned rice business prides itself on implementing regenerative organic farming practices to care for the land and the creatures who call it home. It recently became the first-ever U.S.-grown rice brand to launch Regenerative Organic Certified® rice.
But what does this have to do with ducks?
Well, Lundberg Family Farms just happens to be part of the Pacific Flyway migratory route, which makes it a popular stopping point for thousands of traveling birds. As part of their commitment to regenerative organic farming practices, the Lundbergs flood a portion of their fields to replicate California’s natural wetlands, providing food and habitat for wintering waterfowl. They also grow cover crops, which can help sequester carbon, restore nutrients to the soil, reduce weeds, prevent erosion, and provide habitat for ducks. To cope with the rapid loss of so much of their natural breeding habitat, ducks often take to nesting in cover crops.
So, each spring, before the Lundbergs start up their tractors, they partner with California Waterfowl to search their fields for nests. Using two side-by-side vehicles, they drag a rope with cans attached to it through the field to flush hens off their nest. Once they’ve found a nest, they gather any eggs and deliver them to the local federally permitted Rancho Esquon hatchery, where the eggs are incubated and hatched. The ducklings are then raised for several weeks, banded by CWA and then released back into the wild.
“CWA is lucky to have one of the largest family-owned rice producers in the state participate in our egg salvage program, and it is reassuring to see them think about ducks first before they start working their ground in the spring,” said Jason Coslovich, CWA’s Egg Salvage Program coordinator and waterfowl biologist. “Their motto is ‘leave the land better than you found it’, and I can vouch that they do just that."
By altering its farming practices with waterfowl conservation in mind, Lundberg Family Farms has so far rescued an estimated whopping 30,000 eggs from its fields. But despite already being heavily involved with helping ducks, the business decided that wasn’t enough.
This November, it launched its Ducking Good Rice™ line of merch featuring reusable bags and water bottles, hats and apparel. One hundred percent of the proceeds generated by their first-ever collection of gear will go to CWA’s Waterfowl Fund to support our Egg Salvage Program, California Wood Duck Program, banding and other efforts to grow waterfowl populations.
“Saving baby ducks is an expression of our values — as a family, as a farm, and as a company,” said Brita Lundberg, fourth-generation farmer at Lundberg Family Farms, “but we can’t do it alone. We’re so proud to partner with CWA, and we hope our collection of Ducking Good Rice™ merchandise will help shine a light on the good work they are doing to support healthy waterfowl populations and vibrant wetland ecosystems.”
Interested in treating yourself or a friend to some merch, while also supporting Lundberg, CWA and baby ducks? Visit lundberg.com/collections/gear.