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.
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.
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