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Water Quality Listening Session

The USDA-Research, Education, and Economic (REE) Agencies – NIFA, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Research Service, and National Agricultural Statistics Service -- conducted an Agricultural Water Security Listening Session September 9-10, 2004, in Park City, Utah. The session’s purpose was to determine the relevance of current USDA-REE efforts in agricultural water security, and to develop the basis for an expanded research, education/extension, and economics program within USDA that takes full advantage of partnerships with other Federal and State Agencies. Approximately 90 representatives from federal and state agencies, universities and colleges, non-profit and private sector firms and local municipalities participated. Dr. Rodney J. Brown, USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, provided the event’s keynote address.

The session identified six key topic areas for REE involvement: drought preparedness and mitigation, irrigation efficiency, general water conservation, urban and rural water reuse, biotechnology, and economics and water marketing. Participants also identified 19 steps that REE agencies could take to move closer to solutions for agricultural water security.

By the end of the listening session, participants had:

  • Assessed the current capabilities of the USDA-REE agencies to address research, education/extension, and economic needs;
  • Determined the program needs that might be fulfilled by a coordinated USDA effort of research, education/extension, and economics for agricultural water security;
  • Determined the gaps in existing knowledge;
  • Identified strategies and opportunities that will advance research, education/extension, and economic efforts and provide products and solutions to customers, stakeholders, and partners; and
  • Identified commonalities among the topical themes and described some of the necessary steps to move towards national programming in agricultural water security.

Information gathered at the listening session will be utilized by REE agencies in the following ways:

  • NIFA will use outcomes from the listening session to identify opportunities to link water quantity and water quality issues in competitive grants programs to expand the knowledge base available on water resources.
  • ARS will use outcomes from the listening session as input to the National Program Workshop (May 2005) for priority setting in the Water Quality and Management Program.
  • NASS will collaborate with the newly formulated USDA Working Group for Water Resources and the INDC to identify necessary data needs on water issues and the associated budget proposals to provide the resources to fill data gaps.
  • ERS will continue to partner with NASS in developing survey data to monitor the use of water as an input to agricultural production and to assess the adoption of irrigation technologies.

If you have questions regarding the listening session or if you require additional information contact Mike O’Neill or Dale Bucks.


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