The Department of Agriculture Monday announced new investments and strategies to help farmers and ranchers conserve water, address climate change and build drought resilience in the West. The effort is through the Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action to address key water and land management challenges across 17 Western States.
The framework includes guidelines for identifying vulnerable agricultural landscapes and 13 strategies to help NRCS state leaders, water resource managers, and producers respond to priority challenges. Guided by this new framework, the WaterSMART Initiative will invest $25 million in three new priority areas and 37 existing priority areas, assisting communities and producers in the West.
NRCS Chief Terry Cosby says, “USDA is utilizing this framework and all available tools to deliver assistance that the severity of the water supply challenges in the West demand.” From 2020 to 2022, more than $410 million of annual conservation assistance NRCS provided to producers helped address drought in the West.