Rice farms also provide benefits to wildlife. In the winter, when rice fields are flooded to prepare for the next season, the fields become wetlands, creating ideal resting and feeding habitat for migratory birds heading south.


In 2017, The Conservation Fund was awarded $500,000 through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Coast Conservation program to protect Live Oak Farm, a 100-year-old, family-owned rice farm in Vermilion Parish. Located along the Vermilion River just north of the Intracoastal Waterway, Live Oak Farm is recognized as one of the southernmost remaining rice farms in Louisiana. In addition to rice, the farm produces cattle, crawfish and alligator. The farm is also a significant resource for migratory birds, with up to 70,000 waterfowl wintering on this acreage annually.

This grant will be matched with funds from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program and its Agricultural Land Easement program – the first time such funds have been used in Louisiana – to purchase a conservation easement on a portion of the 5,800-acre farm. The conservation easement allows the property to remain privately owned and keeps it in agricultural production in perpetuity, ensuring continued benefits for wildlife.


Vermilion Parish has seen a significant decrease in rice fields over the last 20 years. This trend represents a substantial threat to the migratory birds that rely heavily on flooded rice fields, which compensate for the loss of wetlands resulting from coastal erosion.

Sustainable management practices at Live Oak Farm are also directly contributing to improved water quality for the Vermilion River, currently classified as an impaired waterway. Tail water recovery systems on the rice fields capture suspended nutrients and sediments on site, ensuring less pollution downstream and to the Gulf Coast region.