Apr 21, 2020Federal government urged by ag groups to address water concerns
A coalition of 150 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the western U.S. urged Congress and President Trump on April 20 to address aging Western water infrastructure as further measures are considered to help the U.S. economy recover from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of safety and stability provided by domestic food production,” the groups stated in separate letters to Congress and the president. “As this crisis has pointed out, a stable domestic food supply is essential and of national security interest. For farmers and ranchers to survive, and for food to continue to be produced here in the American West, a stable water supply is a necessary part of any conversation about our national food security.”
President Trump has stated his belief that renewed efforts to meet the systemic infrastructure demands of the nation will be an important step in combating the long-term impacts of the pandemic.
“We strongly agree,” the organizations stated in the letter to the White House. “In particular, we urge you to advance critically needed investments that address the shortcomings of our aging Western water infrastructure.”
Existing water infrastructure in the West needs rehabilitation and improvement. Most of the federally funded water infrastructure projects that benefit the large cities, rural communities and small farms in the West were built more than 50 years ago. As hydrological conditions in the West change and populations continue to expand, failure to address water security has become increasingly critical.
“Failing to improve water infrastructure and develop supplies will inevitably result in additional conflict as pressure grows to ‘solve’ urban and environmental water shortages,” the groups stated in the letter to Congress. “Moving water away from Western irrigated agriculture will surely contribute to the decline of our national food security.”
The coalition letters—spearheaded by the California Farm Bureau Federation, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers—emphasize that water conservation, water recycling, watershed management, conveyance, desalination, water transfers, groundwater storage and surface storage are all needed in a diversified management portfolio.
“If and when additional infrastructure funding is discussed as part of a larger economic stimulus package, we need your help to ensure that federal dollars flow to the water infrastructure needs mentioned above,” the letters conclude.
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce. For generations we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.
California Farm Bureau Federation is a nonprofit organization of farmers and ranchers consisting of county Farm Bureaus from nearly every county in California, established in 1919 to work for the betterment of family farmers and ranchers in California. To learn more about California Farm Bureau Federation, visit https://www.cfbf.com/.
Family Farm Alliance is a non-profit organization comprised of family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts and allied industries in the western United States. Family Farm Alliance assists its clients through legislative advocacy, media relations, education and research. To learn more about Family Farm Alliance, visit https://www.familyfarmalliance.org/.