Politics have been part of irrigated agriculture since the first Sumerian ditch bosses controlled the waters of Mesopotamia. The importance of irrigation can be seen throughout the history of mankind as farmers and engineers worked to provide reliable water resources for food and fiber crops and adequate sources of water for the general public.

Today’s advanced irrigation systems are economic dynamos that energize local and regional economies far beyond their primary mission of watering important crops. They provide needed hydro-electric power, recreational opportunities, public safety, habitat for wildlife and water conservation initiatives.

As with any system that provides such value and vital economic assets, many interests eek to get their hands on the check valves in an effort to control the water and all that comes with it.

Protecting irrigated agriculture is the primary mission of a group of farmers, ranchers and irrigation organizations called the Family Farm Alliance. One of the organization’s main concerns is the fact that many of the attacks on irrigated agriculture are being promulgated through the bureaucratic rule-making process beyond the reach of Congress. Dan Keppen, director of the group, joins others in agriculture who believe congressional oversight hearings related to federal regulations affecting agriculture and water use are in order.