The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new initiative called Water Conservation Form (WCF), designed to help farmers and ranchers prepare for water shortages and extreme weather events.
Water conservation forms will be available for purchase on the USDA website beginning in February, and farmers and ranches will be able to request the forms through the USDA’s Food Service Assistance Program (FSPAP) and/or the Rural Rural Emergency Response Team (RERT).
The WCF is a “tool for ranchers and farmers to better prepare for the water shortage and extreme events they are experiencing,” USDA said in a press release.
“The WCF provides farmers and farmers markets with information on how to protect their land and water resources by limiting watering and watering on a regular basis, keeping their soil in good condition, keeping water off of their property, and conserving water for their livestock,” USDA spokesperson Liz Sorenson said in the press release, which was provided to Business Insider.
“As a result of drought, the number of days it takes for rain to fall has been decreasing in many parts of the country, with a large portion of this decrease occurring in the Southwest,” Sorenston said.
“Due to the drought, many of the crops and animals that rely on irrigation, water and moisture for their livelihoods are also affected, such as corn and soybeans, barley, wheat, rice, sugar beets, and watermelons.”
This is an opportunity to help ensure that farmers and ranchers are ready for the upcoming severe weather and extreme water shortage, and prepare for their communities during this time.
“The WCFs are a “digital tool that farmers, ranchers, and other water users can use to better understand the water issues they are facing and to help make informed decisions about the conservation of their water resources,” the USDA said.
In the future, the WCF will also provide farmers and other growers with “tools to monitor water use, water quality, and drought conditions, and to report their water conservation progress to USDA,” the press notice added.
The USDA’s WCF program is part of a broader effort that has been launched to help improve the drought and food security for rural Americans.
In October, the agency announced the launch of the Rural Disaster Recovery Program (RDRP), a partnership with the National Cooperative Extension Service (NCEES) to help support “landowner-managed, resilient rural communities” through disaster relief and resilience.
The WCf is a part of the USDA/NCEA Rural Disaster Resilience Initiative (RDRI) which aims to “provide farmers and others with information, tools, and resources to better protect their agricultural lands and water supply.”
The initiative is a response to “significant drought and extreme rainfall events across the country,” according to the USDA.