DU Western Region Director Mark Biddlecomb partnered with Tim Johnson of the California Rice Commission and and Bill Mueller of Valley Vision on an op-ed piece that appeared in today’s Sacramento Bee touting the potential benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asia. The bottom line? The deal should be good for California rice, which will in turn be good for California waterfowl.
Expanding the rice market could be good for wildlife, too. The 4 million to 6 million waterfowl that call the Central Valley home in the winter rely heavily on flooded rice fields for food. Upward of 60 percent of the diet of ducks and geese comes from rice fields that farmers flood after harvest.
Family farms and waterfowl both benefit from increased production the following spring. Farmers have taken care of their rice straw and waterfowl return to their northern breeding grounds in great shape due to the plentiful food resources farmers have provided. It’s a win for both.
A legitimate question often raised is the effect of exporting water as a byproduct of trade. Would the TPP simply allow for more export of our region’s water in the form of raw agricultural products?
While it may seem to be the case, increased exports will actually keep more of the water in the Valley. During drought, there is increased movement of water from the Sacramento region to meet the demands of urban users and of farmers in other regions. In the long-term, however, economics will play an ever-increasing role.
Strong demand for rice, wheat, tomatoes and other crops grown in the Sacramento Valley ensures that farmers will continue to grow those crops and that our region and the plethora of wildlife that utilize them, continue to enjoy the water that irrigates those fields.