Earlier today, the Family Farm Alliance formally responded to 12 questions posed by members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee following the appearance of Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen at the Committee's October 8 drought legislative hearing.
Ten questions were posed by Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-ALASKA):
Question 1: In your testimony, you reference your report, Innovations in Agriculture Stewardship: Stories of Conservation and Drought Resilience in the Arid West." Could you briefly describe how it came about, describe one of the case studies and the results?
Question 2: What should be our key takeway from your report?
Question 3: In your testimony you say "federal agencies managing the competing demands for water in the West have in some cases failed to examine or pursue opportunities for more flexible water management that serves both economic and environmental goals". Can you give an example?
Question 4: What do you believe will be the most effective provisions of H.R. 2898 in maximizing water delivery?
Question 5: In your testimony you suggest that we must invest in the Western Water infrastructure necessary to meet current and future needs and that our existing is aging and in need of repair. Given the limits of the federal budget, what is the most effective way the government can be a partner in that investment?
Question 6: Can you summarize the key points of your recent article "The 2014 drought and water management policy impacts on California's Central Valley food production"?
Question 7: In your testimony, you stated that the role of the Federal Government should be from the "ground up" rather than a "top down" approach. Can you specify, in your opinion, what "ground up" approaches might the federal government play a role in?
Question 8: You mentioned how policies of strict or rigid regulatory standards have negatively impacted farmers. Can you expand on some of these impacts in terms of direct economic loss or damages?
Question 9: Could you expand on losses experienced by stakeholders as a consequence of these drought years? Are they quantifiable at this time?
Question 10: With regard to fallowing programs, given that any provisions on water rights have an associated economic impact, what should the role of the federal government be in minimizing these impacts?
Two questions were also posed by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D- Hawaii):
Question 1: I am happy to see provisions in S. 1894 that extend eligibility of both the WaterSMART grants and RIFIA beyond Reclamation states to Hawaii and Alaska as well as other provisions that have national applicability. I appreciate Senators Feinstein and Boxer keeping my state, as well as others, in mind. We all acknowledge that drought is something that Americans in all 50 states have experienced or should be concerned about. I would like to receive your analysis of how high of a national priority water conservation will need to be in the coming decades and if possible, any key recommendations you have for Congress to consider in making sure U.S. communities can respond effectively.
Question 2: I appreciate the discussion provoked by the hearing, as it is very timely and important and I think folks in other states have a lot to learn from the situation that California is currently experiencing. I would like to hear from you, given your personal experience with Family Farm Alliance, about your advice on how folks in other states should be thinking about long-term water use and conservation on an individual level. As we know from experience with the recycling and energy efficiency movements, it takes a while to change lifestyles.
Do you think it would be helpful if there was some kind of federal incentive available to individuals to conserve water and thus increase awareness of the impacts that our daily activities have on water sources? For example, changing federal programs to incentivize water conservation, efficiency, and reuse either when infrastructure is being built or retrofitted with federal money.
If you are interested in seeing how the Alliance responded to any of these questions, click here.
To see Dan Keppen's written testimony submitted to the Committee for the October 8 hearing - click here.
To see the letter signed off by over 130 Western agricultural and water organizations, urging Congressional passage of Western drought legislation - click here.
To see the written testimony of California producer Cannon Michael - who represented the Alliance at a hearing conducted by this Committee earlier in the year - click here.
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