Newport farmer wins award for waterfowl conservation efforts

by George Jared ([email protected]) 1,135 views 

Rice and ducks are big business in Northeast Arkansas and a Newport area rice farmer has received the Conservation Champion Award. Marvin Hare, whose family has been farming in Jackson County since 1909, received his award at the Waterfowl Hall of Fame banquet Nov. 30.

“Our family farm was one of the first rice producing farms in the area,” he said.

Northeast Arkansas farmers often flood their fields after the harvest to rejuvenate the soil and create wetlands for a number of creatures. Waterfowl, especially geese and ducks, are lured by the winter waters. The artificial habitat provides birds with waste grains, weed seed, rice stock, and other winter foliage. An estimated 700,000 acres are flooded nationwide, and it costs about $3.5 billion.

The ducks attract thousands of hunters to the region during the winter months. This tourism activity pumps tens of millions of dollars into local economies.

Hare is a member of the Arkansas Rice Council and Arkansas Rice Farmers Board as well as their national groups within the USA Rice Federation. He has served as chairman of the Rice Foundation which works to fund rice research for the six rice producing states. Hare is a member and past chairman of the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board on which he has served the past 20 years.

“Early on Marvin recognized the need for conservation and the wise use of farm resources. He became the first proponent of techniques that employed new ideas and technologies to produce more grains with fewer inputs,” said Arkansas Rice Federation Chairman Jeff Rutledge. “Marvin was one of the first individuals to stand in the gap and deliver one of the most important pieces to provide food and habitat for those wintering waterfowl that find their way through our great state. He continues a legacy of conservation within his family and we are proud to present such a deserving man with this award.”

Hare worked with Ducks Unlimited in the late 1990s in the Arkansas Rice Project to expand the relationship between ducks and rice fields. With the help of his son in law, Greg James, they built habitat and food plots for overwintering ducks and geese.

The synergy between rice fields, duck habitat and the joy of family being together during duck hunts all motivated Hare to continue to adopt practices on his farm that would raise the bar in habitat conservation. His operation now floods over 1,800 acres annually to serve as rest areas and feeding areas for thousands of migratory birds on their trip to and from the Canadian prairies.

Link here for a video about Hare and his efforts.