A coast-to-coast effort

Legislative update | Spring 2023
Wheat grain spreads out over $100 bills.

In mid-February, the Irrigation Association had the opportunity to present some of the key priorities of the association regarding the farm bill in front of lawmakers, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California; Glenn Thompson, chairman of the House committee on agriculture, R-Pennsylvania; and several other congressional members at the 2023 World Agriculture Expo in Tulare, California.

Elevating the value and importance of irrigation and our industry toward ensuring global food security and the economic vitality of agriculture and rural communities is critically important for the work we do here at the IA. Specifically, advocating on behalf of the irrigation industry’s priorities for the farm bill is one of our top priorities. This year especially, our efforts are essential and focused due to the fact that the committee has several new members, including some who have never gone through the process of producing a farm bill.

Elevating the value and importance of irrigation and our industry toward ensuring global food security and the economic vitality of agriculture and rural communities is critically important for the work we do here at the IA.

It’s absolutely imperative to ensure those new members understand the important role the bill plays in those who cultivate irrigated agriculture. What about the impact irrigated agriculture has on the American economy?

IA CEO Natasha Rankin, MBA, CAE, said it best.

“Besides boosting farm productivity and profitability, irrigation is critical infrastructure that helps improve global food security, ensure national security, reduce producer risk, promote the economic vitality of rural America and generate value for many related industries,” she told the committee.

It’s true, and this highlights the importance of our mission of promoting innovation, supporting industry growth and sustainability, engaging decision-makers, and serving as the leading, credible and unifying voice and advocate for the industry. Our comments to lawmakers at World Ag were one of many opportunities we’ve had in recent months to highlight our industry’s valuable contributions.

I’ve traveled from California to Nebraska to Washington, D.C., and had the chance to see and hear firsthand the challenges irrigation professionals are overcoming daily.

There are a number of bright spots in the industry, too, including irrigation professionals and beginning farmers who have the courage to take the risks that come with owning and operating a business head-on. They embody the changes taking place across the country as farmers embrace new techniques, a changing culture and technologies that will improve yields and reduce input demand.

At the 2023 Irrigation Association Fly-In in Washington, D.C., members of the IA met with key decision-makers on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies to advocate on behalf of the entire irrigation industry and advance priorities including the 2023 Farm Bill, H2-B labor issues and drought impact in many areas of the country.

Farmers are facing challenges that will be affected by the farm bill, but it’s certainly not the only impactful event happening in the agriculture industry.

In the Colorado River Basin states, we’re tracking two proposals: one submitted by California and another by six other basin states. Stakeholders on both sides are optimistic that the two groups will eventually come to a compromise, and we’ll be tracking it until the end. The issue highlights an important situation where water scarcity is not a temporary event but a new normal.

Our advocacy efforts remain rooted in the same principals as the members we serve, and our team remains steadfast in our commitment to track these crucial topics to ensure we are best prepared to advocate on behalf of irrigation professionals and growers.

Nathan Bowen is advocacy director for the Irrigation Association.



The state of legislation

Engaging with the IA offers a direct route for those interested in state legislative issues, particularly within agriculture.

Gains made, ground to cover

As representatives of the irrigation industry, we are not just advocates for our sector; we are stewards of a resource that sustains life.

Gradually and then suddenly

Here, I’ll share a couple of anecdotes that serve as bookends to some of my current thinking and research on aquifer depletion.