Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo (D-CO) introduced a bill that would help family farmers and ranchers fight drought. The Voluntary Groundwater Conservation Act gives farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to protect groundwater sources while also keeping agricultural lands in production under a new voluntary groundwater easement program.
The legislation comes as aquifers in the Western U.S., a crucial source of water for rural communities and farmers, are in decline. The bill creates a new Groundwater Conservation Easement Program at USDA to encourage voluntary, compensated reductions in groundwater consumption on agricultural land and advance local, regional, or state groundwater management goals.
Additionally, it will guarantee long-term management flexibility for a producer to continue farming and choose how they reduce water use, as long as they conserve the amount they’ve committed to reducing. Producers would also get paid based on the market value for the water right instead of per acre.