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Lundberg Family Farms Receives California Leopold Conservation Award

Lundberg-Leopold Award-home pgSACRAMENTO, CA, November 19, 2018 – Lundberg Family Farms was selected as the recipient of the 2018 California Leopold Conservation Award®.

The Lundberg Family. Photo: Paolo Vescia

Sand County Foundation, the nation’s leading voice for private conservation, created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farmers, ranchers and foresters. The prestigious award, named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is given in 14 states.

"We have worked with family members separately, like Bryce and Jessica, as well as a the Lundberg Family Farm as a whole," said Daniel Taverner, USDA-NRCS District Conservationist in Butte County. "They are a great voice of conservation, and they remain active in the forefront of soil health and wildlife conservation. Their leadership locally is paramount in promoting environmentally-sound farming practices."

The award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Lundberg Family Farms (Butte County) will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold at the California Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in San Diego on December 5.

Lundberg Family Farms has a long commitment to sustainable farming methods that produce well-known rice products while improving and protecting the environment for generations to come. Started in 1937, the farm is a multi-generation organic rice farm and innovative rice-products processor.

Lundberg-Leopold Award-1“We are honored to receive the Leopold Conservation Award in recognition of the environmental practices we have applied on our farm for over 80 years,” said Bryce Lundberg, Vice President of Agriculture. 

(Left to right) Tim Schultz, Bryce Lundberg, Jessica Lundberg and Grant Lundberg. Photo: Paolo Vescia

“Our grandparents instilled a deep respect for the land in our parents. Our family has been deeply influenced to maintain and expand upon that rich tradition.”

“We feel a profound responsibility to enhance our environmental stewardship in all that we do, whether in farming operations, where we have substantially expanded our organic farming practices in the third generation, to building wildlife habitat, including a 100-acre-plus riparian forest along the Feather River, to increasing our use of renewable energy, with nearly two megawatts of on-site production, to achieving Platinum Status with the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council at our primary production site.”

“Thank you to the award co-sponsors for creating this recognition and highlighting the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers across California and beyond.”

Lundberg Family Farms is a pioneer in many stewardship practices, including flooding fields rather than burning them to break down rice stubble after harvest, thus providing cleaner air and habitat for millions of migrating waterfowl each winter. Planting cover crops, rotating crops and utilizing natural methods of pest control, and other practices have made them a leader in organic rice farming. The Lundbergs are well-known for rescuing duck eggs ahead of harvest and releasing the ducklings back into the wild. They’ve saved more than 30,000 ducks to date.

“The California Farm Bureau Federation is proud to partner with Sand County Foundation and Sustainable Conservation in recognizing farmers and ranchers who make conservation a key focus of their business plan, with the annual selection of the Leopold Conservation Award recipient,” stated Jamie Johansson, President.

“This year’s California winner, Lundberg Family Farms, has made conservation of the natural resources on their land a way of life, ensuring that future generations will enjoy the same vibrant ecosystems that they inherited from their parents and grandparents. As the most productive agricultural state in the nation, California farmers have shown their ability to protect the environment, while producing a cornucopia of food and farm products that not only create sustainable economic stimulus, but help feed the rest of our nation and world. We are proud that so many California agriculturalists share Aldo Leopold’s pragmatic vision for conservation and farming and ranching.”

Lundberg-Leopold Award-2

Photo: Paolo Vescia

“The Lundberg family is an absolute standout for its decades of truly pioneering stewardship for the benefit of people and the environment,” said Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation, which has co-sponsored the award since its inception in California. “They’ve led the way in so many areas – from pioneering organic rice production in the U.S., to boosting clean air by flooding instead of burning fields after harvest, to establishing an egg-rescue-and-release program that’s saved tens of thousands of migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway. The list goes on and on.”   

Among the many outstanding landowners nominated for this year’s award were two finalists. Rominger Brothers Farm (Yolo County) is a diversified farm and ranch that has made significant habitat improvements. This includes planting miles of hedgerows to benefit important pollinators like bees, restoring over 5,000 feet of stream corridors to connect riparian areas and wetlands to aid a variety of species, and managing irrigation water on their rice fields to boost declining shorebird populations.

Sweet Haven Dairy (Fresno County) is a pioneer in irrigation water management and conservation tillage. By using water sensors and underground drip irrigation systems rather than field flooding to grow cattle feed, the dairy has reduced its water use by 50%. Conservation tillage reduces tractor passes across their fields, improving air quality in the area.

The 2017 recipient was C. Jeff Thomson, International, a Kern County grower of fruits and vegetables whose many wetlands and wildlife achievements included establishing an 850-acre wetland on his own property in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Leopold Conservation Award is made possible thanks to generous contributions from American AgCredit, Farm Credit West, The Harvey L. & Maud S. Sorenson Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and California Leopold Conservation Award alumni.

For more information on the award, visit

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The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Sand County Foundation inspires and enables a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 40,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing the state’s land, air and water. Since 1993, it has brought together business, landowners and government to steward the resources that all Californians depend on in ways that make economic sense. Sustainable Conservation believes common ground is California’s most important resource.