Across most of the arid West, drought has been the norm for the last 15 years. The majority of young farmers and ranchers in this region have never farmed in non-drought conditions, which means they are uniquely focused on creative solutions to water conservation.
NYFC’s new report, Conservation Generation: How Young Farmers And Ranchers Are Essential to Tackling Water Scarcity in the Arid West, paints a picture of these young farmers, their approach to water, and the challenges they face. The report is based on a survey of 379 young farmers in the arid West as well as conversations with eight farmer focus groups.
- Water, drought, and climate change are the top agricultural concerns of young farmers in the West. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents listed water availability/access as once of their concerns;
- Young farmers prioritize water conservation, and the vast majority (94%) are already conserving water;
- Building healthy soil is the most common water conservation strategy;
- Federal cost-share programs are not reaching young farmers in the West;
- Perceptions of “use it or lose it” discourage on-farm conservation.
Conservation Generation also outlines a series of recommendations to better support young farmers both within the Colorado River Basin and across the West that includes protecting irrigated farmland, increased education and outreach to the young farmer community, strengthening incentives for on-farm water conservation and efficiency, and elevating soil health as an essential tool for resilience. Download the report.