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🗣️ "Progress at the Speed of Trust"


Photo by Leslie Cross / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Dan Keppen | Executive Director | Family Farm Alliance &
Taylor Hawes | Colorado River Program Director | The Nature Conservancy
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[7:40] DK: “For me, it was in the mid 2000s, near the end of the George W. Bush administration, there was a farm bill that was just starting to be negotiated. And a group of us got together from the conservation community and the ag community. […] What I saw was sort of a concern about the rapid urbanization and development going on in the West. And the conservation groups and the ag ag groups both felt like that's something that we need to address. We need to find ways to keep these farmers and ranchers in business so they can continue to produce food and also work with constructive conservation groups to do good things for the environment. If they go out of business or they're forced out of business, likely that those lands are going to end up becoming condos or development. And I think we all agreed that the alternative is much better, having viable sort of landscape ranch operations, the farming operations in place where you can also do restoration projects on private property.”

[10:44] TH: “In 2010 I remember being at a conference […] on a panel and someone asked me, what keeps what keeps you up at night and what gives you hope. And the answer to both was agriculture. Because I knew if we were going to find ways of reducing our water use, yet keeping a viable economy, while also trying to protect this incredible iconic landscape of the Colorado River Basin, we were going to have to […] find ways to reduce water use. And if you look at the numbers, of course, most of the vast majority of water use is in agriculture. So I knew that we needed to work with agriculture.”

[23:10] TH: “Some of the things that nature conservancy has been doing […] is work on the infrastructure and technology side of things. […] The other thing that we've done a lot of is working on legal and policy questions. […] You've probably heard […] the phrase: Water, you use it or lose it. And so a lot of the farmers and ranchers have questions about reducing their water use and whether that will diminish their water right. […] Then another area that we've invested a lot in is these questions around research and science. […] And we're really trying to do it in a way where we follow the farmers’ and ranchers’ lead.”

[34:43] TH: “I think that the challenge we're facing right now is that […] the western United States is experiencing climate change faster than other parts of the lower 48. […] It's going to be hotter, it's going to be drier, there's going to be more extreme weather, there's going to be wildfires. […] We are facing some really, really significant challenges when it comes to our water future and the security of everyone living in this region, whether you […] just love living here or you're a farmer, or you're living in a city, it's going to impact everyone.”

[35:25] TH: “I think the biggest challenge that we face is first convincing everyone that we do need to be responsive, we do need to have a plan in place, we need to have more flexibility in our water loss system. We need to be able to share the resources, as things get tighter. […] Our first step is really creating that sense of urgency. […] Because my concern relative to the topic today is that agriculture and nature will likely be the biggest losers. […] My sense is that […] politically speaking, the cities will get their water if we come to that crisis point. […] So I think it's in our interest for the agricultural and environmental community to really be part of the solution so that we can avoid that future. And I think if we get it right, we, and there are lots of opportunities and solutions to continue to explore. We're on water time right now.”

[38:54] DK: “By the year 2050, our planet is facing a gap in our ability to meet the growing hunger needs of the planet. And American farmers and ranchers are the best on the planet. […] We have the most secure food source in the world. But the reality is the average age of farmers is getting older. We're having a hard time bringing young people into the industry for a variety of reasons. […] The one good thing that might come out of this drought that we're seeing this year is an increased public and political awareness.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 43 min | 🗓️ 05/19/2021
✅ Time saved: 41 min

Additional Links:
Latest US Farm Bill (2018)