The American Farm Bureau Federation has introduced a new grassroots water quality initiative that highlights and encourages positive roles for farmers in protecting the nation's water resources.
The Proud Water Partners program includes insights gleaned from successful state Farm Bureau water quality efforts. Proud Water Partners encourages cooperative leadership from farmers regarding water quality issues, but also recognizes the supportive roles of other groups, government agencies and researchers interested in agriculture's success and water quality.
"This dynamic water quality program rightfully puts farmers in the driver's seat," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "Proud Water Partners shows farmers, step-by-step, how they can work through their state Farm Bureau to reach out to their neighbors and others who believe that a strong agriculture is the best way to tackle any water quality challenge."
According to Stallman, the program empowers and equips farmers to:
--Take an even more active interest in the condition of their local water resources.
--Understand the true condition of local water resources and be familiar with the science behind such determinations.
--Address through changes in management practices any water quality challenge quantified by sound science.
--Work with government officials to correct any misidentification of water quality problems that are not supported by scientific fact.
The program includes an action notebook, which provides background on the program and the issue of water quality; step-by-step guidelines and suggestions for developing farmer-focused water quality programs, at the state level; and examples of programs and ideas developed by state Farm Bureaus that have proved successful.
"It is our hope that government officials will serve as helping hands as state Farm Bureaus put this program into place," Stallman said. "We expect these cooperative steps to be far more effective and rewarding than federal proposals, such as TMDL regulations, that tend to target farmers, create adversarial relationships and foster mistrust between government and the people it serves.
"True to the program's motto, America's farmers are 'Working the land. Protecting the water.' Through Proud Water Partners, farmers will further meld those two concepts into a singular action. Farmers are keenly aware of the vital roles that a healthy environment and quality natural resources play in the production of abundant, healthy and safe food. And they know it all starts with water," he said.
For more information about the Proud Water Partners program, contact Don Parrish, senior environmental policy specialist for AFBF, at 847-685-8742, or the state Farm Bureau staff.