Oregon senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkely as well as Washington’s Patty Murray joined 11 others this week sending a letter to the USDA about the western Drought and conservation priorities.  The lawmakers are asking the agency to give parity to the urgent priorities of Western growers and communities through existing authorities, new funding, and collaboration across government.  


“The American West is in crisis.  Across the major basins of the American West – including the Colorado River Basin, the Rio Grande Basin, the Great Basin, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basin, the Columbia River Basin, and the Arkansas-White-Red Basin – farm and ranch families hang in the balance as they grapple with a 22-year mega-drought,” the letter states. “The acute shortage of water for Western growers threatens productive farmland across our states, which are both a pillar of our rural economies and drivers of America’s food production.” 


In the letter, the senators urge USDA to support Western farmers and ranchers to conserve water, improve water infrastructure and efficiency, protect lands at risk of erosion, and provide technical assistance for growers in regions affected by drought. The senators also urge USDA to better extend resources and develop tailored solutions through its existing programs to help Western growers address the dire drought conditions.


"American farmers and ranchers manage over 895 million acres of ground in the United States, giving them a vital role in combating climate change risks while continuing to feed America,” the senators continued. “Congress funded $20 billion for USDA agriculture conservation programs. We believe USDA should allocate these funds for agriculture conservation equally across the country to reflect the contribution of every region, including the West.”


Click Here to read the entire letter.


Other senators signing this week's bipartisan letter include: Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mitt Romney of Utah, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Dianne Feinstein of California, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Alex Padilla of California.


If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-9791, or e-mail glenn.vaagen@townsquaremedia.com 

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