March has been the month for recognition of agriculture and water awareness.
Governor Brownback proclaimed March 4-10 Kansas Agriculture Week.”Kansas has a strong agricultural tradition that predates its statehood, and it continues today as a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” Governor Brownback said. “As we look towards the future, growing agriculture in Kansas is one of my top priorities.”
Kansas produces nearly $4.0 billion in agriculture exports a year. Kansas farmers provide food for Americans and people in 102 different countries around the world. At 28.2 million acres, Kansas has the second-most cropland of any state, and the most cropland of any state by percentage.
In addition to the proclamation, March 5 Governor Brownback signed two bills into law designed to conserve the state’s water supply and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.
House Bill 24151 eliminates the state’s landowners incentative to conserve water because they won’t feel that they must use their maximum amount of water when they don’t need to just so they don’t lose water rights.
Senate Bill 872 amends multi-year flex accounts to expand irrigators’ capabilities and options so they can manage their water without increasing long term water use under their water right.
Work on reforming the state’s water laws began a year ago when Governor Brownback’s administration started planning the Ogallala Aquifer Water Summit. From the summit came the Ogallala Aquifer Advisory Committee who reviewed short and long term water goals. From those reviews the Kansas Water Authority developed the water reform legislative agenda presented to the Kansas Legislature for its consideration.
“Agriculture is key to the economic vitality of Kansas, and water is essential to agriculture production,” Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, Dale Rodman said. “The bills signed are an important step towards creating water policy that benefits agriculture today and sustains the valuable water resources for future generations.
Kansas Water Office Executive Director Tracy Streeter said the new laws are true examples of when Kansans work together, issues can be solved.
“I encourage our water users and managers to make full use of the new tools provided, “Director Streeter said. “The Kansas Water Office will continue to work with the Kansas Water Authority and Kansas stake holders to identify and evaluate further policy considerations.”
For more information contact your local Conservation Districts or http://www.facebook.com/KansasDeptofAg.