Farm Press Blog

Water challenges will not be solved this way

  • Real solutions to America's water challenges continue to be ignored

The Natural Resources Defense Council claims that much of last year’s record Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) payout of $17.3 billion could have been avoided.

All farmers and ranchers needed to do was use “water-smart strategies,” according to an NRDC press release. Never mind that much of America's agricultural growing region suffers from drought conditions.

“The Federal Crop Insurance Program has failed farmers and taxpayers by ignoring water challenges,” said Claire O’Connor, NRDC Agricultural Water Policy Analyst.

Let us set aside the notion for a moment that FCIP has “failed farmers and taxpayers” and look at the belief O’Connor has that water challenges have been ignored. O’Connor is right: water challenges have been ignored all over the United States, and even globally.

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Several “best management practices,” including cover crops, no-till farming and improved irrigation scheduling seem to be the only recommendations on the table by the NRDC, which bills itself as “an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists.”

So much for stepping up to the plate with real solutions to America’s water challenges.

Rather than the tried-and-true method of building dams to create on-stream water storage facilities, America’s water woes are blamed on the lack of cover crops, a lack of no-till farming and poor irrigation scheduling.

Lakes backed up by dams have multiple benefits, including recreational opportunities, increased habitat for fish and other wildlife, power generation, flood control and drinking water. While the NRDC’s “best management practices” are not necessarily bad, the NRDC ironically ignores what the NRDC claims is being ignored.

It is not for lack of information that people wrongfully assume American agriculture is woefully inefficient. We consistently publish information in print and on the World Wide Web to help growers find new ways to improve efficiencies. We do this in part by highlighting the early innovators and reporting on the latest research coming out of America’s universities and private companies.

I suggest O’Connor and others who believe as she does need to get out more and see what growers are doing to stay in business and produce a crop with what little water they do have. A careful study of Farm Press publications and the issues we report could not hurt.


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette


Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 30, 2013

Dams are a way as well but with limited reasources that are diminishing farmers need to move away from practices that use water inefficinently. Whether we like it or not the urban population does not share the values as the rural farming community so rather than fight the change,better to adapt to the new conditions.

Avoman (not verified)
on Aug 30, 2013

You can always count on a big city liberal to provide an arrogant and ignorant response when they opine about agriculture. When you can't overtly take away rights in this Country, you do it through environmental lawyers and like minded politicians. Raise the cost and lower the availability of a natural resource through bureaucracy and then chastise the producer for not producing cheaply enough, so you can have affordable organic kale on your sandwich. Then you want it harvested by a new American making an "living wage" while reading your progressive handbook on kale harvesting brought to you by a blue ribbon federal panel set up by the new Kale Tax. What a putz.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 30, 2013

these people have never raised a bushel of grain in their lives. They have no business making pronouncements on something about which they know nothing.

B.Real (not verified)
on Aug 30, 2013

I find these editorials rather morbidly amusing... your lack of enlightened information is astounding. The solution to the water crisis cannot be solved with the same thinking that created it. Damming more rivers will not solve the drought, in fact it may exacerbate it- as farmers will use more water if there is more water. The issue is the water cycle of the land has been disrupted by tillage and lack of vegetation. We need more green things growing (ie trees) to restore the water cycle. (Contrary to popular belief trees actually create rain and shelter crops so that you need less irrigation.) Desertification is a real thing and can be reversed with very minimal shifts in management strategies- ie no till, cover crops, crop rotation, and something the NRDC didn't mention- trees and windbreaks. This is not complicated and we need to heed the warnings otherwise we will all be out of business...

on Sep 1, 2013

You may decrease or eliminate habitat for as many species as you help out when you put in a dam. Careful consideration needs to be taken before doing thos projects, as it is very hard to fully understand the effects to the rest of the ecosystem is some, seemingly minor species are no longer in it. Sometime there is little effect, and sometimes it can be completely wrecked. Also, what NRDC is talking about, "good" notill, "good" covercrops, etc., work. How else do you explain the producers utilizing these practices still having viable crops when many conventional till neighbors' fields are droughted out? Also it keeps the soil where it should be, and not in the bottom of your lakes.

Avoman (not verified)
on Sep 3, 2013

In San Diego, when local farmers conserved 35%, Metropolitan Water District raised prices 50% and increased their own retirement pensions

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