Irrigators, ranchers and conservationists look to form the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition, passage of the farm bill first on agenda

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Here’s the release from the Environment Defense Fund.

Here’s the list of contacts:

Contacts:
Jeff Eisenberg, Rockspring Resource Solutions, Coalition Staff, 571-355-3073
Trout Unlimited, Russ Schnitzer, 307-438-1365
Family Farm Alliance, Dan Keppen, 541-892-6244
The Nature Conservancy, Sean McMahon, 515-244-5044
Arizona Public Lands Council, Dave Cook, 928-701-3021
Environmental Defense Fund, Dan Grossman, 303-447-7213
Wyoming Stock Growers, Jim Magagna, 307-638-3942
California Farm Bureau, Elisa Noble, 916-561-5618
Public Lands Council, Dustin Van Liew, 202-879-9126
Irrigation Association, John Farner, 703-536-7080

Here’s the text of the release:

Representatives of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Trout Unlimited, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Public Lands Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Family Farm Alliance, Public Lands Council and the Irrigation Association agreed on Saturday, February 25, subject to the approval of their Boards, to form the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition to advocate for balanced management of resources in the rural west.

The goals of the Coalition would be to support the common interests of agriculture and conservation through targeted education, advocacy, and outreach and to engage decision makers and resource managers in the spirit of collaboration to further a shared vision for a rural west that is economically and environmentally sustainable.

“Livestock producers look forward to the opportunity to show the inextricable connection between their ability to stay in business, and the health of the economies and natural resources of the West,” said PLC president and rancher from Nevada, John Falen. “Through wise resource use over generations, and through clear private property rights, ranchers have proven themselves diligent stewards of the land.”

Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, said: “successful conservation depends on collaboration. In the West, many of our conservation projects wouldn’t happen without two things: agricultural producer partners and Farm Bill support. We urge Congress to act quickly to ensure a Farm Bill that continues to provide vital tools for private land stewardship.”

As a first step, the groups agreed to call on Congress to pass the Farm Bill this year in order to ensure the greatest possible amount of funding for the conservation title. The Senate Agriculture Committee is holding a conservation hearing today, an action which the groups agreed was an important step in the right direction. The groups will submit detailed policy proposals to the Committee in the next few days.

While the current farm bill debate is the priority of the coalition, members of the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition look forward to potentially expanding the coalition’s focus to include other areas of importance to western agriculture production and conservation efforts.

Here’s a release from Trout Unlimited (Jeff Eisenberg):

A new coalition of conservation and agriculture groups called on Congress to pass the Farm Bill this year to ensure full funding for conservation title programs, saying they are critical to the health of Western economies and landscapes.

The newly formed Western Agricultural and Conservation Coalition
includes the California Farm Bureau Federation, Trout Unlimited, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Public Lands Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Family Farm Alliance, Public Lands Council and the Irrigation Association. The coalition will advocate for balanced management of resources in the West, educate about the common interests of agriculture and conservation, and engage decision-makers to further a shared vision of a rural West that is economically and environmentally sustainable.

As a first step, the groups called on Congress to pass the Farm Bill
this year in order to ensure full funding for the conservation title
programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee held a conservation hearing
this week, an action which the coalition agreed was an important step in the right direction. The groups will submit detailed policy proposals to the Committee in coming days.

”Successful conservation depends on collaboration,” said Chris Wood,
president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “In the West, many of our
conservation projects wouldn’t happen without two things: agricultural
producer partners and Farm Bill support. We urge Congress to act quickly to ensure a Farm Bill that continues to provide vital tools for private land stewardship.”

The Farm Bill is one of the nation’s most successful and powerful
drivers of on-farm conservation and innovation. More than ever, for
producers to reduce risks and remain competitive, they have to make sure they’re operating as efficiently as possible.

But for many farmers and ranchers, investing in new irrigation
upgrades—not to mention stream habitat improvements—is often
cost-prohibitive.

That’s where the Farm Bill’s highly effective Title II conservation
programs—EQIP, AWEP, CCPI and others—play a key role. For more than 75
years, they’ve helped fund infrastructure modernization and conservation projects that benefit ag operations while protecting stream health and wildlife habitat.

While the current Farm Bill debate is the priority of the coalition,
members of the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition look
forward to potentially expanding the coalition’s focus to include other areas of importance to western agriculture production and conservation efforts.

“Livestock producers look forward to the opportunity to show the
inextricable connection between their ability to stay in business, and
the health of the economies and natural resources of the West,” said
John Falen, PLC president and rancher from Nevada. “Through wise
resource use over generations, and through clear private property
rights, ranchers have proven themselves diligent stewards of the land.”

More coverage (and thanks for the heads up) from National Geographic (Jennifer Pitt):

Irrigated agriculture is a vital part of the culture, economy, and landscape of rural communities throughout the region. But with increasing population pressure, the looming threats of deeper, longer droughts, and aging infrastructure, irrigated agriculture faces an uncertain future.

Now, as Colorado River Basin stakeholders contemplate possible solutions to long-term shortfalls in the balance between water supply and demand, a group of agricultural and conservation organizations have joined efforts in a ground-breaking new coalition. The Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition’s goal is to advocate for balanced management of resources, including water, in the rural West.

The coalition has asked Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year to provide maximum possible funding for a number of conservation programs, including those related to water. Members of the coalition include the California Farm Bureau Federation, Trout Unlimited, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Public Lands Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Family Farm Alliance, Public Lands Council, and the Irrigation Association.

Throughout the West, Farm Bill conservation programs have helped modernize irrigation operations, often in ways that improve river health. We are beginning to see these types of projects in the Colorado River Basin: in Colorado, the Mancos Conservation District is using Farm Bill conservation funding to leverage other local and state funds to replace aging diversion structures and restore instream habitat on the Mancos River.

Another example is the work of ranchers on the Yampa and Gunnison Rivers in Colorado who, working with Trout Unlimited and Farm Bill conservation program funding, are installing new head gates and gated pipe, as well as adding fish passage structures. These projects improve both crop productivity and instream and riparian habitat.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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