JANUARY 22, 2014 Nebraska Farm Bureau News
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 January 22, 2014USPS 375-780 ISSN 0745-6522
Official publication of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Mission: Strong Agriculture...... Strong Nebraska
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NEBRASKA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Steve Nelson, president (Axtell)Mark McHargue, first vice president (Central City)Rob Robertson, chief administrator/ secretary-treasurer (Lincoln)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sherry Vinton, second vice president (Whitman)Nathan Bartels (Elk Creek)Don Benner (Central City)Leslie Boswell (Shickley)Andy DeVries (Ogallala)David Grimes (Raymond) Jason Kvols (Laurel)Scott Moore (Bartley)Myles Ramsey (Kenesaw)Todd Reed (Lincoln)Tanya Storer (Whitman)
NEBRASKA FARM BUREAU NEWS
is published monthly, except July, by Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, 5225 South 16th St., Lincoln, NE 68512. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE and additional entry offices.
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Nebraska Farm Bureau NewsAttn: Tina HendersonP.O. Box 80299, Lincoln, NE 68501
Top 4 Ways to Advocate
Farm Bureau’s Agri-cultural Contact Team (FB-ACT) is the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federa- tion’s grassroots action network. When we reach out to state lawmakers or Congress, we impact the decisions they make.FB-ACT advances agri-cultural and rural interests by connecting elected officials to those people who matter most – their constituents.Passing legislation that supports our issues is a challenging process that requires active participa- tion by our members. You can make a difference by:
SEND A LETTER
As a con-stituent, your lawmakers and political appointees know that you are the key to their understanding of issues important to you. They want and need to hear from you on issues you consider important.
MAKE A PHONE CALL
When you need to get in touch with your lawmaker immedi-ately, and don’t have the time to craft a letter or email, that’s when it’s time to use the most common method of communicating with your lawmakers – make a phone call!
MEET FACE TO FACE
By far, the most effec- tive way to articulate your views to your elected of-ficials and positively affect the outcome of legislation and of policy debates is to speak with lawmakers face to face.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
You can send a letter to the editor to many news-papers via email rather than hand-writing them. Go to our online Legislative Action Center to find media outlets in your area, and send them a message. It only takes a minute.For more information about getting involved in FB-ACT visit nefb.org or call 402-421-4409.
Dec. 16 Omaha World-Herald editorial raises an opportunity to hold more discussion about the expansion of irrigated acres on Nebraska farms.The editorial was based on a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Economics piece that pointed out the growing trend of dryland farm acres being convert-ed to irrigated acres and the possibility that sometime down the road we’ll have more irrigated than dryland acres in our state.The editorial rightly points out the importance of Nebraskans embracing sound water conservation ideas, but it may have led some readers to believe that more irrigated acres means more water use.While it would be easy to jump to that conclusion, that thinking misses out on one very important point: Nebraska farmers have been working to get better at conserving water using new practices and new tech-nologies. The proof is in the numbers.According to the most recent data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the number of irrigated acres in Nebraska increased from 7.8 million in 2000 to 8.3 million in 2005. (The 2010 data from the USGS are expected sometime in late 2014.) During that same timeframe, the amount of irrigation water used in Nebraska actually declined from 9.8 million acre-feet per year in 2000 to 9.4 million acre-feet per year in 2005.How is it possible to have more irrigated acres but use less water? Many farmers have aggressively worked to better manage how water is used on the farm. From the equipment used to the seeds put in the soil, the goal for most is to get more out of each drop of water.Today, technology and new conservation practices are allowing farmers to monitor applications and collect data to aid in making timely decisions about when and where to apply water to help ensure they are conserv-ing and enhancing efficiency.Farmers now have the ability to do a better job of measuring their crops’ water use, water needs and keep tabs on soil moisture content. Many farmers are on the path of converting from gravity irriga- tion systems to center-pivot irrigation systems that enhance efficiency. In some cases, farmers are using subsoil irrigation systems that put water directly into the crop’s root zone.New technologies in seed varieties that use less water, developed through research at land-grant universities and private companies, also are making their way into Nebraska crop fields. Changes in till-age practices, cropping rotations and adjusting plant populations are other tools used to save water. It’s the combination of all of these that allows us to help raise food using less water.These changes are being made to not only help us be better farmers but because of a belief that we have an obligation and responsibility for preserving water re-sources for the next generations — not just those that live on the farm.Despite our efforts, we can’t escape the fact that raising food requires water. We all need to eat. And in Nebraska, irrigation has implications beyond the dinner plate. A Nebraska Farm Bureau-funded study released earlier this year showed that irrigation contributes $11 billion to Nebraska’s economy. It also creates more than 30,000 Nebraska jobs, which, if all were located in one county, would be Nebraska’s 10th largest.The connection among irrigation, food production, jobs and Nebraska’s broader economy is the reason we believe so strongly that managing our water resources is a statewide issue.Innovations and improvements in water conserva- tion will continue on the farm, but we all share some responsibility in helping ensure we have sound long- term water policy. This includes developing the water programs, projects and activities needed to make sure water continues to be available to all of Nebraska’s water users in the future.
The President’s Message
By Steve Nelson, PresidentNebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Water Conservation Not New to Farmers