More than one-third of the world’s population lives in water-scarce regions, and by mid-century, half of the projected 9.8 billion people on Earth “could be at risk due to water stress,” said a report out today from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
A decade or more ago, farmers in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado began to run out of irrigation water. The solution, after years of court cases and finger-pointing, was an agreement to raise the price of water, says the NPR blog The Salt.
"Simple and familiar conservation practices, if applied in the right places," are key to reducing worrisome levels of nitrates and other types of farm runoff in the drinking water of rural communities, says the Environmental Working Group. In a report, "Trouble in farm country," the green group said stewardship of all working land should be a requirement for growers who want farm and crop insurance subsidies.
The USDA will open a three-month enrollment period on Nov. 14 for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays farmers and ranchers for making soil, water and wildlife conservation a part of their daily operations. A small-farm group says producers should submit an initial application if they're interested in the program, but it says USDA has yet to fully describe its changes to CSP.
A wetter fall has convinced California regulators to ease up on water restrictions for farmers and ranchers in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and its watersheds, says Reuters. A foot of rain fell on the northern half of the state in October, making it the second wettest on record in the northern Sierra Nevadas. The south remained dry.
In California, so-called dry farmers say that they’ve avoided the worst of the drought and produced more flavorful crops by keeping their plants thirsty, reports Ari LeVaux in FERN’s latest story, produced with National Geographic's blog, The Plate.
On paper, Republican Rep. David Valadao should be at a disadvantage, running for re-election in a U.S. House district that is 57 percent Latino and where Democrats have a 17-point advantage in voter registration. Yet, in the Central Valley of California, "the nation's most productive agricultural region, the drought drives everything," says the Los Angeles Times.
Seven major food companies, with $124 billion in combined annual revenues, will work with growers around the world to reduce water use and pollution, said World Wildlife Fund and Ceres, a nonprofit group promoting sustainable food. The companies, Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, Kellogg, PepsiCo and WhiteWave Foods, will submit detailed sustainable sourcing and water stewardship plans as part of the AgWater Challenge.
Three farmers in western Kansas are partnering with a state agency in a test of thrifty irrigation systems that require less water to grow crops in the Plains