Explaining the importance of Western irrigated agriculture


(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this opinion piece, Dan Keppen, the executive director of Family Farm Alliance, writes that over the past month, his organization has worked on testimony for three different Congressional hearings dealing with Western drought. He notes that irrigated agriculture in the West is important because it helps the U.S. maintain food independence and it helps the U.S. economy, due to agriculture’s trade surplus and role in feeding the world. “Unfortunately,” he says, “some Western producers are starting to feel that their way of life is being written off by a segment of the public that appears to believe that the tragedy occurring in many parts of the West is a comeuppance that ranchers somehow deserve.” During a drought, Keppen continues, “it often seems like much attention is given to the critic, who has never managed water resources or implemented projects to improve water management or habitat for water-dependent species, but has the ‘simple’ answer to the problem at hand.” We still hold, he says, “a sliver of hope that critical thinkers and leaders will easily distinguish this nonsense from reality. There is a clear distinction to many of us in the rural West between those who are actively working, and the observers offering only critiques. Many Western ranchers are truly actively engaged, looking for ways to solve water challenges, as opposed to the myriad of outside interests who have no problem sharing their criticism and harmful strategies. We will keep pushing to inform policy makers and the public on the consequences of drought—namely water shortages, devastation to rural communities and lifestyles, food insecurity and higher prices at the supermarket.” And, he adds, “We’ll also continue our efforts to ensure that irrigated agriculture continues to play a vital role in feeding our Nation, while keeping our rural communities and the environment healthy.”

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