Refuge Seeking Agricultural Producers

Attention Farmers and Growers


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking one agricultural producer for a Cooperative Agriculture Program at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in Angleton, Texas. The producer(s) will have use of up to 1216 acres of irrigated land on the refuge for a period of 3 years (2020-2022), with an annual work plan review.

Background

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 to provide critical habitat and wintering grounds for migrating waterfowl and other bird species. The refuge serves as an end point for the ducks and geese migrating south along the Central Flyway for the winter. It also serves as an entry point for neotropical migratory songbirds headed north to their breeding grounds, exhausted from their 600-mile crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. More than 300 species of birds call the refuge home. For part of the year the refuge is well known for the thousands of Sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter here each year. The CCP identifies resource management objectives that cooperative agriculture will assist the refuge in achieving. Invasive species control is one of the refuge’s resource management objectives and with consistent rotation and cultivation of farm units, the cooperative agriculture helps keep the relentless on slot of invasive flora at bay in the area. The Service has determined that cooperative agriculture is an appropriate, compatible and necessary use of the refuge to meet this objective.

The Proposed Cooperative Agriculture Agreement

The selected producer will operate under a Cooperative Agriculture Agreement as a “cooperator” with the Service. Under this Agreement, the Service is proposing that the cooperator will be responsible cultivating three units a year producing successful first crop and leaving 20% of the final crop harvest in the field for the benefit of migratory birds plus rent equivalent work done to fallow fields in exchange for the exclusive rights to produce and harvest crops within the refuge. Examples include, but are not limited to, rice and Soybeans.

Water for the farming operation would have to be purchased by the cooperator. The refuge does not provide this service.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy prohibits the use of GMOs and neonicotinoids and all pesticides must be pre-approved under a pesticide use permit (PUP) for the refuge.

The producer(s) will be selected through an open, transparent and competitive process where applications will be scored and ranked by the following objective criteria:
  • Experience in cultivating the crops listed above, personal experience on NWRS lands or comparable land, including intimate knowledge of soil composition, chemistry, moisture, and fertility, water needs, pest problems, and erosion problems.
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully cultivate crops under the crop and chemical restrictions listed above (e.g. non-GMO crops, non-neonicotinoid pesticides, restricted timing of harvest).
  • Ownership or access to the proper equipment, materials, labor, or other resources to participate in the cooperative agriculture agreement (e.g. [provide examples of number of staff, specialized equipment, etc.]).
  • In-kind services to assist the refuge in carrying out a successful cooperative agriculture program (e.g. assisting in readying the crop for feed by the cranes, maintaining roads and other infrastructure used by the cooperator)
  • Other objective criteria necessary to ensure the cooperative agriculture meet the resource management objectives of the NWRS lands.”]

Applications

Applicants must fill out applicable portions of FWS Form 3-1383-C, and must address in their application how applicant will meet these objective criteria. The application form, maps of the proposed cooperative agriculture area, supplemental application instructions, and examples of a finalized Cooperative Agriculture Agreement can be requested by email (lee_gaston@fws.gov) or in hard copy at the refuge. Applications can be submitted via email (lee_gaston@fws.gov), mail (24907 FM 2004 Angleton, TX 77515), or in person at the Refuge Headquarters (24907 FM 2004 Angleton, TX 77515).

Informational Meetings

Informational meeting(s) to provide details about this program, which will include a short presentation followed by a questions and answer session, will occur at the following locations: 24907 FM 2004 Angleton, TX 77515

Site Visits

Site visits to the refuge’s agricultural areas are also available upon request.