Western drought will affect all Americans

Congress seeks solutions

By Family Farming Alliance

The United States faces another year of record drought in the West. Farmers and ranchers in some of these areas are receiving little or no water from federal water supply projects as they enter the dry summer months.

Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has diminished and destabilized global production and availability of agricultural products. Rising input costs, combined with ongoing energy and supply chain crises, continue to impact food supply and demand.

“We are seeing reports that the war in Ukraine, sanctions and destroyed ports could take almost 30% of the world’s grain supply out of production or market this year,” the executive director of the Family said recently. Farm Alliance, Dan Keppen, during a congressional drought. forum hosted by members of the House GOP.

All of the above factors have combined to cause significant inflation – food prices alone have risen 9% this year – which will affect all Americans.

Agricultural water loss means less food on grocery store shelves

Many western farmers rely on Federal Bureau of Reclamation projects for irrigation water. Over the decades, the operations of many of these projects – including the Klamath Project (California and Oregon) and the Central Valley Project in California – have been significantly affected by government decisions that disproportionately direct water to needs. perceived environmental.

Every acre of farmland taken out of production equates to a loss of real food that could help replenish grocery store shelves that may soon run out of once plentiful food items.

“When people talk about taking millions of acres of California farmland out of production, they’re just numbers,” Bill Diedrich, a fourth-generation California farmer, said at the recent congressional drought forum. “Let me put them into perspective. For every acre not planted due to lack of irrigation water, the equivalent of 50,000 lettuces will not be available to consumers.

Mr. Diedrich is also president of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“Our food supply is just as much a national security issue as energy,” he said. “If we fail to recognize it, we put the country in danger.”

Sacramento Valley farmers and business leaders talk about this dry year

As NCWA President David Guy recently wroteCalifornia farmers are no strangers to drought, though one of California’s driest years is having widespread and significant impacts in the Sacramento Valley.

To provide context for the dry year and economic impacts, see the recent paper prepared by Dr. Dan Sumner at UC Davis titled, Continuing Drought in 2022 Ravages California’s Sacramento Valley Economy. In sum, the report suggests there will be 14,000 lost jobs, with impacts of $1.315 billion for those dependent on agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.

In a recent Rooted PodcastJim Morris was able to meet with several farmers and business leaders on the West Side of the Sacramento Valley to talk about the dry year and the impacts they will see this year.

“We’re down to 25% of normal rice acreage,” said grower Kurt Richter, who farms in Colusa County. “For an operation in the west, that number is actually very high this year. I’m the only person I know on the west side who even plants rice.

We encourage you to listen to the Rooted Podcast to hear firsthand how the dry year will impact people and businesses in the area.

Water allocation to Klamath Basin farmers hinders food production in high market

Many farmers in the Klamath Basin are currently in the stage of planting their crops after the first water deliveries from the irrigation districts. However, with only 50,000 acre-feet of surface water allocated by Reclamation, one farmer says the impacts of another year of low production will continue to harm the community and the farming industry.

“The situation is about to get worse because the whole West is in this situation and the food shortage is going to be a reality this year,” said Scott Seus, a farmer, district board member of Tulelake Irrigation and a member of the Family Farm Alliance. .

CLICK HERE for the interview Scott did with CBS affiliate KTVL TV (Medford, Oregon).

Clearly, federal water management has become too rigid in places like California and central Oregon, where an ESA-protected frog is impacting water deliveries to basin producers. of the Deschutes River.

“We need to restore the balance in federal decision-making regarding water allocation, especially during times of drought,” said Alliance President Patrick O’Toole, a rancher from Wyoming. “It is one of many solutions needed to maintain the nation’s food security and the economic well-being of the Western landscape.”

Congress proposes measures to increase western water supply

Democrats and Republicans in both houses of the congressional bill are proposing additional measures that would increase water supplies and upgrade water infrastructure in California and other parts of the western United States.

A series of new water supply improvement projects and demand management programs can also help ease the stress on the West’s existing water supplies. the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act, signed into law last November by President Biden, provides a first-of-its-kind federal investment for this purpose. Legislative proposals made in the House and Senate aim to further improve the water supply of the West.

In February 2021, U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the Responsible No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvementsor RENEW WIIN, Act, a free and clean extension of the operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (PL 114-322).

“Food prices are at an all-time high and people are struggling to put food on the table,” Rep. Valadao wrote in a recent blog post, titled “Severe Drought Threatens U.S. Farmers and Food Supply”. “The ongoing war in Ukraine is destabilizing global production of agricultural raw materials. Experts warn of the very real possibility of a global food shortage. Now more than ever, we must do everything in our power to help our domestic farmers, ranchers and producers provide much-needed stability to our global food supply.

The RENEW WIIN Act – supported by the Alliance and several of its member agencies – would expand the general and operational provisions of Subtitle J of the WIIN Act and expand the provision requiring consultation on the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the of state water. The legislation would also expand credit authorization for water storage projects that the Home Secretary deems feasible.

“Ensuring that our agricultural producers have access to safe, clean and reliable water is critical,” said Representative Valadao.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) introduced May 17 S.4231, the Support for the rehydration of the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities Act or Flow Lawa bill that would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure in California and throughout the West.

“If we don’t act now to improve our resilience to drought, the situation will only get worse,” said Senator Feinstein. “We need an ‘all of the above’ strategy to meet this challenge, including increasing our water supply, encouraging projects that provide environmental benefits and clean water to disadvantaged communities, and investing in environmental restoration efforts”.

Click here for the press release issued by Senator Feinstein’s office, which includes links to a one-page summary of the bill, a section-by-section analysis and a list of supporters, which includes the Family Farm Alliance.

“We appreciate the increased attention that many Western members of Congress recognize the importance of modernizing and expanding our water infrastructure,” Mr. Keppen said. “There is still time for all of our state and federal officials to right this ship and recognize the importance of storing water and growing food with it.”

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