Water conservation goals can be achieved without severe irrigation restrictions that would damage the economy of the Texas High Plains.  That’s the message of a public information campaign launched this week by Texas corn producers.

“Agriculture brings billions of dollars into the economy of the Panhandle and South Plains every year and is the main driver of economic growth in the region,” said David Gibson, Executive Director of the Texas Corn Producers Board.  “Through research and development of new technology, we are finding ways to grow more crops with less water.  This means we can conserve water for future generations without sacrificing economic growth today.”

The campaign includes televised public service announcements, a 10 minute video and a new website, www.WaterGrowsJobs.org, with the slogan “Water grows our economy; let’s make it last.”

“Every person in this region of West Texas is affected by the availability of groundwater, but no one has a bigger stake in conserving water resources than the farmers whose livelihoods depend upon irrigation,” Gibson said.  “That’s why we’re working with agencies like the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to apply conservation practices that benefit everyone who lives and works in the region.”

Thanks to new irrigation methods and improved seed genetics, today a bushel of corn can be grown with half the water that was used 25 years ago, and researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research are currently testing new corn hybrids that will reduce water use by another 25 percent.  All the major seed companies are developing new drought-tolerant crops and the first generation of these water-conserving crops will be available to farmers this year.

“This makes us strongly optimistic about the future of our economy,” Gibson said.  “We can achieve our long range water conservation goals by implementing small, gradual reductions in irrigation use and still increase agricultural production that drives economic growth.”

“Groundwater districts will be making important decisions about water use in the coming years, and the public needs to be fully informed when they participate in the decision making process.  We want everyone to understand the conservation options available to us and the consequences of those options,” Gibson said.

Additional information and research reports are available at www.WaterGrowsJobs.org.