Family Farm Alliance Members: Below you will find language you can simply copy and paste in order to send to your Member of Congress. To be most effective, send it through the preferred format which you can find on their website accessed through the House and Senate. Be sure to identify the fields below in brackets “<>” and replace with your personal or business information. Thank you for your advocacy on this critical issue!
February <insert day>, 2022
The Honorable <Insert Name>
Re: Support for USDA Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program (WFPO)
Dear <Insert Title and Name of Recipient>:
On behalf of the <insert your organization name>, I write to express our strong support for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program (WFPO).
Across the Western U.S., agriculture relies on century old irrigation infrastructure to deliver water to farms and ranches. Open canals lose extensive amounts of water through seepage and evaporation, have mounting operation and maintenance costs, limit water availability for fish and aquatic species, and create public safety risks due to breaching. WFPO funds projects like irrigation modernization, flood prevention and damage reduction, development of rural water supply sources, erosion and sediment control, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland creation and restoration, and recreational opportunities.
WFPO funding is critical for supporting the modernization of irrigation water delivery infrastructure at scale in our state and elsewhere across the Western United States. WFPO began receiving appropriations in 2017, after a hiatus of several decades. The program has since received an annual appropriation of $150 million. This is a program that irrigation districts have put to use replace leaking, open canals with pressurized pipes, and overall improving agricultural water security.
The program’s funding is becoming increasingly competitive because of the scale of need in modernizing agricultural infrastructure. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act appropriated an additional $500 million to the program. At the time, this was expected to be in addition to the upcoming annual appropriation of $160-$175 million. Even the total of $675 million is not enough to meet the needs of agriculture because we are already far behind on our infrastructure.
As we understand it, over the next three weeks, appropriators from both Chambers will be meeting to negotiate an “omnibus” package to be voted on by both Houses. We have heard that there is pressure from some quarters to significantly lower the WFPO funding for FY22 to pay for other things. Reducing funding to WFPO would be a step in the wrong direction. This funding is critical to help our agricultural communities modernize and be able to address the on-going challenges associated with long-term drought.
I urge you and other Members of Congress to hold the line and keep the WFPO funding level for the FY 22 appropriations package currently being negotiated.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.