Senate ag leaders address the Western water crisis

Senate ag leaders met yesterday to discuss the Western water crisis.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet says it deserves the same attention and action as disasters on the East and Gulf coasts.

“The most recent data from the U.S. drought monitor found that more than 50 percent of the contiguous United States is experiencing severe drought. These conditions threaten to put farmers and ranchers out of business, threatened the communities that rely on water to support their families and their livelihoods, which is every community in the West, and frankly, threatens our way of life.”

“The 2023 Farm Bill presents opportunities to encourage public investment and proper forest management, natural water infrastructure, enhancing the climate resilience of water supplies, and supporting workforce development, and increasing the pace and scale of watershed restoration and adaptation.”

“Wishing for snow and rain is no longer an adequate plan at any level of decision-making. If our communities are going to survive in Colorado and downstream, decisive action at the federal level is needed to help us adapt to this hotter and drier future.”

“USDA Conservation Assistance Programs help the agriculture industry thrive in good times and survive in hard times. The Council supports collaborative, targeted and voluntary programs promoting conservation practices and groundwater recharge to preserve the long-term ground and surface water resources. Programs such as EQUIP, the regional conservation partnership program, and conservation reserve enhancement program are all programs in which implement the best management practices on the ground to lessen the need for water and help mitigate drought.”

“We have not had measurable precipitation on my farm in Western Kansas since last August. I do utilize state programs. I get asked sometimes, ‘why don’t you use the federal programs?’ The reality of it is this: the state is simple. Unfortunately with the federal programs, mean well, but their flexibility is not there. One of the asks that I would have is that we construct this new Farm Bill; remember that one size does not fit all, and the key to getting farmer adaptation to all this is flexibility.”

Lawmakers say they want to hear from the farmers, ranchers, and communities that have been impacted by severe drought, so they can tailor policies and programs to work best for them.


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