What is in this article?:
- Drought conditions are forcing Texans to reconsider water use as resources shrink as a result of three or four years of abnormally dry conditions.
- But the Central Texas Water Coalition's proposal that rice producers sell their farms or switch to other crops to reduce demand for water has prompted criticism in ag circles.
- The group's "bold proposal" could spell the end of row crop agriculture in parts of the Texas Gulf Coast where irrigation has become a way of life for growers battling persistent droughts.
Proponents of any proposal that would eliminate rice farming from the state argue that farming traditions can be maintained by simply switching out rice crops for other types of crops that are not so water demanding. What they may not realize is that to go from one type of farming to another can require massive investment in different types of land and equipment, not to mention farmers have invested years learning to grow one type of crop and it would be difficult at best to switch to a crop they are neither prepared to grow or equipped to handle. Then there is something called farming tradition that farmers, regardless where they are from, take to heart. In many instances, children and grandchildren take up the family farming enterprise and continue to produce a quality crop of rice or corn or cotton or whatever the family has been growing for decades or even centuries.
In addition, something should be said about the responsibility farmers accept in producing food for a hungry world. Food production should indeed be given priority considerations whether the subject is water or land use. When America was founded it was a nation of rural communities. There were few sprawling cities of the time. While farmland has shrunk through the years, urban areas have exploded requiring more resources than farmers ever thought about using.
While most of us recognize the modern world requires both rural and urban development, we should be careful to remember that large urban populations do and will always require food as much as they require water. So when it comes to shutting down or buying out farm land to reduce water use so that urban residents can wash their cars and water their lawns, we need to remember that basic truth.
Again, cudos to groups like the Central Texas Water Coalition, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Hill Country Nature Conservancy and others groups of like nature, and to individuals like Jo Karr Tedder who favor conservation and ecological protection and offer solutions that can benefit Texas. But let us remain mindful of the need for a fair balance between the need for natural resources in support or urban development and the need to maintain an environment that continues to support food production. And let’s not forget that farms are businesses as well and their rights to resources should be honored as much as it should for every type of business and for every individual in the state.