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Democrats representing Western states ask for more federal funds for drought

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(The Center Square) – Democratic members of Congress representing Western states want more federal funding support to combat ongoing drought across the region.

In a letter sent this week by lawmakers representing Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, they said that while federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for “climate-smart agriculture and forestry mitigation practices” is appreciated, “there is more work to do as the places and people we represent are on the frontlines of climate change.”

“We ask the Department to bring all resources to bear in helping address long-term drought and aridification in the Western United States. In particular, leaning on opportunities to partner with states, Tribes, and local organizations like irrigation districts and acequias can leverage local knowledge and limited resources,” the lawmakers said in the letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“As you implement any assistance, we wish to underscore how upstream watershed-scale investments greatly benefit all downstream uses, in particular for our farming and ranching communities,” the letter added, mentioning additional resources for water forecasting, water conservation, watershed restoration, and drought-related multi-benefit programs.

Among those who signed the letter include U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and U.S. Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.

“Reliable and sustainable water availability is absolutely critical to any agricultural commodity production in the American West, and swiftly deploying funds to producers and watersheds in our States and Districts is crucial to help them respond to more frequent and severe droughts,” the letter said.