[1:05] We welcome featured guest Dan Keppen of the Family Farm Alliance - after wrapping up the annual FFA meeting in Las Vegas, we sit down with Dan to learn more about irrigated agriculture in the West.
[2:00] The Birthday Game - we include a correction from last week's game. Elizabeth was correct in saying that Michael Jordan turned 54 last week.
Dan wins this week's challenge. Congrats!
[4:18] Current news - President Trump will be signing at Waters of the United States (WOTUS) executive order during the week of February 27.
WOTUS is controversial regulation, particularly in the agriculture community, because of how it expands the Environmental Protection Agency's authority in a way that was not intended.
The regulation creates a lot of uncertainty, however no one wants to just go back to the status quo. Determining the scope of the term "waters of the U.S" is important.
FFA's biggest concern with rule was its impact on how irrigation districts could get in and maintain ditches and canals.
Here is a good FFA article from 2015 explaining some of the controversy and activities around WOTUS.
[8:30] Who is FFA? - FFA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on water to protect irrigated agriculture in the 17 Western states. Most members are irrigation districts but FFA members also include individual water right holders, agribusinesses, etc.
These are called the "reclamation states" because the reclamation act was intended to provide federal water projects to store water for the summer time.
[10:50] Secretary of the Interior - Representative Ryan Zinke is the nominee. FFA is supportive of Zinke.
Zinke is up for confirmation during the week of February 27.
[12:20] What are the biggest challenges facing FFA members? - how federal laws have been applied or litigated to the detriment of rural communities, including agriculture communities. This includes:
Endangered Species Act.
Clean Water Act - WOTUS.
National Environmental Policy Act.
[12:48]These well-intended laws have been misused by critics of agriculture - This is a great conversation for people only familiar with many of the environmental talking points around these regulations.
In relation to ESA, litigation can cause major issues and take money away from actually helping endangered species.
[16:05] Media messaging - FFA had a panel on how to message about irrigation when the media may not be telling the complete story.
[20:00] Current opportunities for infrastructure - the message that needs to be out there with the crisis in Oroville right now is the importance of long-term maintenance. We also want to make sure water infrastructure is a priority - not just bridges and roads.
[23:00] A conversation about who uses water - the message out there is that agriculture and people are the main users of water. However, there is environmental use too.
One of the myths irrigated agriculture is constantly battling is that agriculture uses 80% of the water.
Need to look at how much water is dedicated to the different sectors (users).
In California, 48% of the water goes to environmental needs.
[24:34] Current weather in the West - while it is a wet year, in the Central Valley even with all of the rain and flooding, those working in agriculture may only get a 40% supply of water because of the environmental precedence that fish get.