Apr 25, 2022 | Blog

Healthy Farms Build a Healthy New Mexico

Elephant Butte Irrigation District plays a vital role in supporting healthy farms

The Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) – a long-time supporter of the Family Farm Alliance – is located within one of the oldest Reclamation projects in the West. Built over 100 years ago by the US Reclamation Service (now the Bureau of Reclamation), Elephant Butte Reservoir and the District deliver surface water to 90,640 acres of water righted land in New Mexico. 

EBID’s delivery of surface water through this infrastructure has made it possible for species of all types to thrive and coexist within the fertile valleys of the Project.

The green corridor of agriculture irrigated by the Rio Grande has sustained life for thousands of years. Pueblo residents watered their crops with carefully crafted catchments and acequia systems. These early farms expanded to larger farming operations as societal changes swept across the land. 

Remaining changeless are the human requirements for food, fiber, and shelter for people and livestock. The need for security in the food chain supply is as vital as ever.

Irrigated agriculture in the Western US fills a fundamental purpose in keeping our nation and the world fed. In fact, a vital agricultural industry is crucial to the ongoing health of our communities and environment. 

“American farmers, and farmworkers, are literally ‘salt of the earth’ folks,” says Family Farm Alliance President Patrick O’Toole. “Family-owned farms and ranches are the beating heart of America.”

EBID’s family farmer members have demonstrated water and land stewardship for generations. They are the beating heart of New Mexico.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF version of a whitepaper titled, Healthy Farms Build a Healthy New Mexico that Treasurer-Manager Gary Esslinger and his team at EBID developed to provide a brief overview of some of the ongoing work the district does to facilitate stewardship and conservation of water resources and species’ habitat.

Mr. Esslinger – who currently chairs the Family Farm Alliance Advisory Committee – is directing a variety of innovative projects intended to improve watershed management, stormwater capture, brackish water development, and groundwater resource management.

As the war in Ukraine kindles fears of global food shortages, rising food prices and a multitude of rippling consequences, the efforts of Western food and fiber producers served by EBID and other water agencies have never been more important.  

“Western producers can and will successfully work through future droughts and water shortages in a collaborative and effective way,” said Mr. O’Toole. “The future of millions of people and millions of acres of farms and ranches and the food and fiber they produce rest on this belief.”