Policy, progress and persistence

Legislative update | Fall 2023

Developing a professional, expert workforce is one of the key strategic priorities that drive the focus of the Irrigation Association.

In a world where the rapid pace of technological change is a given, an agile, knowledgeable workforce isn’t just a luxury — it’s a necessity.

That’s why the Irrigation Association is partnering with hundreds of other organizations to advocate for important legislation to help us advance an expert workforce. Specifically, we are working together to encourage Congress to pass the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, or S. 722/H.R. 1477.

Remember, advocacy isn’t a seasonal task — it’s a year-round commitment that benefits not only you but also your family and your business.

It not only encourages a culture of lifelong learning but also brings financial flexibility to professionals seeking to expand their skills. By extending the utility of tax-advantaged 529 savings plans beyond just traditional college expenses to include costs for professional credentials, we’re working to open doors for countless individuals to advance their expertise — and their careers.

The bipartisan backing for this legislation signifies its far-reaching impact and importance in nurturing a robust 21st-century workforce. Removing financial barriers that prevent people from acquiring in-demand skills is crucial for our economic future. When businesses have access to a highly skilled workforce, they are better positioned to innovate and drive economic growth.

At the Irrigation Association, we believe this is a policy win and a societal win, one that empowers individuals to realize career advancement and enhanced career satisfaction. It simultaneously enhances expertise across the industry with Senators Klobuchar and Braun, Congressman Wittman, Congresswoman Spanberger and all the bipartisan co-sponsors in Congress to push for the future progression of this transformative bill.

In addition to this important work, the association’s recent move to join forces with a broad coalition urging Congress to allocate $750 million in funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research through the 2023 Farm Bill is part of the IA’s commitment to fuel a thriving, growing industry. Robust, state-of-the-art research is indispensable if we’re to square the circle of increasing global food productivity while preserving our planet’s natural resources for the next generation.

The ripple effects of this investment extend far beyond the agriculture sector. FFAR is in the vanguard of tackling some of today’s most pressing challenges, from supply chain resilience to the growing threat of climate change. This is an investment in adaptive, scalable solutions that will serve as a blueprint for tackling the complexities of modern agriculture — and how irrigation plays a vital role in those solutions. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

But with all this promise for the future, dysfunction in Washington is standing in the way. This is especially true on the reauthorization of the farm bill, which technically expired at the end of September without a replacement in place. The coming weeks are critical to ensuring a replacement is in place by the end of the year.

It’s an unfortunate reality that the same gridlock in Congress that is resulting in brinkmanship over a federal government shutdown also has the potential to prevent a robust and strong farm bill from being passed in a timely fashion.

As we look ahead, let’s not forget the power each of us holds as stakeholders in this industry to influence real change. I urge you to consider reaching out to your local, state and federal representatives to make sure the needs of your operation are not just heard but acted upon. To help you in this essential endeavor, the Irrigation Association is tirelessly working to develop and distribute our collection of advocacy resources. You can find a wealth of information aimed at amplifying your voice by visiting our action center at irrigation.org/advocacy. Remember, advocacy isn’t a seasonal task — it’s a year-round commitment that benefits not only you but also your family and your enterprise.

Nathan Bowen is the vice president of advocacy and public affairs for the Irrigation Association.



Center pivot checks

As the growing season unfolds, periodic drive-by center pivot checks become invaluable, especially when crops are still in the early stages.

A sensor-based decision support system for variable rate irrigation systems

Variable rate irrigation systems can improve water management because water can be applied in the right amount at the right location.

Searching for agricultural water management solutions

In many regions within the United States and globally, long-term agricultural water availability continues to be a rapidly rising concern.