California Legislation Offers Incentive for Winter Rice Field Flooding

California legislation passed this fall established an incentive program that authorizes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to contract with private landowners or lessees to flood rice ground for at least 70 days during the winter. RiceFarming reports that the 2018-19 state budget contains $5 million for the initial development and program start-up. Qualifying land must have been in rice two out of the past three years, and priority would be given to parcels that are home to endangered or threatened species. Initially, the contracts would be for three years. The article says the California Rice Commission plans to work with the Department to develop rules of the new program and establish provisions for receiving and evaluating grower applications.