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USDA Unveils New Program To Build Drought Resilience

The USDA recently announced new investments and strategies to help farmers and ranchers in the West conserve water, address climate change, and build drought resilience. The Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action is a comprehensive strategy under the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to address water and land management challenges across 17 Western States. This strategy is designed to combat six central water and land management challenges threatening the region’s water supply.

Based on this new framework, the WaterSMART Initiative will invest $25 million in three new priority areas and 37 existing priority areas, providing support to communities and producers in the West. The strategies include improving soil moisture and irrigation water management, modernizing water infrastructure, and managing and restoring rangelands and forestlands. These efforts will increase resilience during disaster recovery and help farmers and ranchers build drought resilience in their communities.


The NRCS has leveraged stakeholder feedback from a public listening session, input from the field, and the latest scientific data to shape and inform the framework. For example, between 2020 and 2022, the NRCS provided more than $410 million of annual conservation assistance to producers, which helped address drought in the West.

The $25 million investment in three new priority areas and 37 existing priority areas in the West is the result of a collaboration between the NRCS and the Department of Interior’s (DOI) WaterSMART Initiative. This collaboration aims to help farmers and ranchers conserve water, build drought resilience, and support the reduction of carbon sequestration or greenhouse gas emissions. These investments will also help build strength to climate change impacts such as droughts, wildfires, and floods.

Overall, the USDA’s new investments and strategies in the West represent a critical step toward addressing the challenges that threaten the water supply in the region. By leveraging the latest scientific data and collaborating with stakeholders, the USDA is well-positioned to help farmers and ranchers build resilience to climate change impacts and ensure a sustainable future for the region’s agricultural communities.

Photo by Michael Kirsh on Unsplash 


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