Updates & Reviews
After overwhelming House (360-61) and Senate (78-21) passage, President Barack Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Investments for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law on December 16, 2016.
Late in the night of December 9, the Senate passed (63-36) the FY 2017 appropriations ‘continuing resolution’ (CR), H.R. 2028, extending FY 2016 federal funding levels through April 28, 2017. The vote avoided a federal government shut-down. Then, the Senate easily passed the WIIN Act that included both the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA – S. 612) authorizing Corps of Engineers projects and policies and containing important California drought provisions and other West-wide natural resources items.
Family Farm Alliance to Participate in White House Water Summit
World Water Day Event Coincides with Release of New Western Water Report
March 22, 2016
Washington, D.C. – the Family Farm Alliance later today will participate in the White House Water Summit to raise awareness of water issues and potential solutions in the United States, and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative science and technology.
The Obama Administration is hosting the Summit in conjunction with the United Nations World Water Day. In addition, following the White House’s call to action issued in December, more than 150 external institutions are joining the Federal government in announcing new efforts and commitments to enhance the sustainability of water in the United States by managing our water resources and infrastructure for the long term. These efforts and commitments include needed steps to accelerate development, demonstration, and deployment of innovative technologies; support critical research; enhance data collection, access, and usability; conserve water and water basins; raise public awareness; and deliver tools and technologies so that we can ensure that future generations have access to safe and reliable water resources.
Click here to learn more about all of the commitments and announcements being made today.
Over 100 Western Organizations Call on Congress
to Pass Drought Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 16, 2016) -- Yesterday, in a renewed call for Congress to pass drought legislation this year, over 100 Western water user organizations, commodity groups and state Farm Bureaus sent a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell urging bipartisan cooperation to produce compromise legislation that can be signed into law before President Obama leaves office.
Click here for the complete press statement released jointly by the Family Farm Alliance, California Farm Bureau Federation and Western Growers Association.
Editorial: Don’t endanger Central Oregon farmers
Some Central Oregon irrigators are in a very uncertain place. With spring on the horizon, they don’t know what their water supply will be this summer, and until they do, they cannot make basic decisions about what and where to plant.
Their difficulties lie with a lawsuit and subsequent request for a preliminary injunction filed by Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity and WaterWatch, an Oregon environmental group. The two say the Bureau of Reclamation and the North Unit, Tumalo and Central Oregon irrigation districts mismanage the release of water from reservoirs into the Deschutes River, in the process damaging habitat for the threatened Oregon spotted frog.
What if someone suggested to you a new policy, one that would result in less food production, a loss of states' rights and more federal control, less water for your household, for migratory birds and economic activity, and also would spawn endless lawsuits?
What if this new policy governed water in a way that left its distribution up to a federal bureaucracy?
Yet that is what would happen if we listen to critics who are using the current California drought to sound the drumbe...
Earlier today, the Family Farm Alliance and California Farm Bureau Federation provided drought management recommendations to the organizers of the White House Drought Symposium. The Alliance and Farm Bureau were two of nearly 40 diverse stakeholder groups invited to Washington, D.C. last summer to discuss the federal government’s role in building drought resilience into water management systems and the steps that federal agencies should take to forestall future drought crises. Organized through the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) the symposium brought together a small group of high-level experts on water and drought issues at all levels of government, academia, the agricultural sector, conservation organizations, and the private sector. NDRP intends to produce a summary of the Symposium, including listing the barriers to and opportunities for federal action so identified by symposium participants, distinguishing between opportunities that exist strictly within the federal government and those that require partnership with non-federal stakeholders.
The joint letter with the California Farm Bureau lays out a vision for successful solutions to deal with future droughts. Western irrigators in California and elsewhere need flexible, streamlined policies and new affordable financing tools that provide balance and certainty to support collaborative efforts and manage future water infrastructure challenges. Solutions in all of these areas will be crucial to future enhanced agricultural production, conservation and community outcomes in the West.
After 18 months of drafting, re-drafting and coordination with its members in seven states, the Family Farm Alliance has completed an important water policy report intended to guide water policy planning efforts in the Colorado River Basin.
The 20-page report, titled "Colorado River Water Management - Principles & Recommendations" was shared earlier this week with water policy leaders representing agriculture and municipal water users, conservation groups, and power interests in the 7 Basin states.
The report will form the basis for Alliance President Patrick O'Toole's presentation to the Water Education Foundation's Colorado River Symposium on September 17, 2015 in Santa Fe (NEW MEXICO).
As the 114th Congress begins initial deliberations in Washington, D.C., the Family Farm Alliance (Alliance) has prepared a "road map" that the organization's leaders believe can be used as a guide for policy makers to protect and enhance the agricultural economy in the Western United States.
The Alliance has prepared "A Road Map towards Securing the Future of Western Agriculture" which will be shared with local, state and federal officials, including Western members of Congress, Congressional water and environment committees, and the governors of the 17 Western states. The Road Map provides findings and recommendations on four key areas that are intertwined with Western agriculture: 1) water resources; 2) The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and other federal environmental laws; 3) Public lands management; and 4) Immigration.
"Our Road Map offers specific policy recommendations to ensure that Western agricultural operations continue to be vibrant and innovative for generations to come," said Alliance President Patrick O'Toole, a sheep and cattle rancher from Wyoming. "The report is intended to provide a road map that policy makers can use to develop solutions to the critical challenges facing Western farmers and ranchers."
Many of the issues discussed in the Road Map are vetted in further detail in Securing the Future of Western Agriculture: A Perspective of Western Producers, a 2014 paper co-authored by the Alliance and AGree, a process that seeks to engage diverse interests to drive the transformation of the nation's food and agricultural system. While not representing official AGree policy, the 2014 paper has helped inform AGree's development of policy and action recommendations by stimulating thinking and discussion. The Family Farm Alliance is represented on the Advisory Committee of the AGree process, which is supported with funding from nine of the world's leading foundations.
The Road Map emphasizes the need for a new way of looking at water resources, one that includes a broader view of how water is used - along with consideration of food production and habitat needs.
"The goal should be to integrate food production and conservation practices into water management decision making and water use priorities," said Mr. O'Toole. "We must begin to plan now in order to hold intact current options."
A different kind of conference tour......
The 2015 Family Farm Alliance Annual Meeting and Conference general session will wrap up at noon on Friday, February 20th in the ballrooms at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. In past years, some conference attendees have headed out to see Hoover Dam, the fountains of Bellagio, or the new water intake in Lake Mead that serves Las Vegas.
This year, we're trying something new!
Starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Dragon Noodle Co. and Sushi Bar (located on the casino level of the Monte Carlo), John Ehrmann of the Meridian Institute will facilitate a brain-storming session that will bring together interested conference attendees and environmental policy experts to discuss ideas on how to make the 40-year old ESA effective and reflect scientific advancements and societal needs of the 21st century. Are there ways to more successfully assist species that are truly in danger? Can implementation of the Act be updated so species conservation does not create conflicts with people?