Letter: Farming cannot happen without water


RE: The “Water Squeeze” article by Jeff Thomas in the December, 2012 issue:

I am more than a little outraged at the casual tone taken by NPIC Operations Manager Steve Smith when he commented, “I think the farmers, if they are astute about this situation – given the drought – they will probably cut back on the number of acres they are irrigating.” I would have expected this sort of comment out of a City official, for example when City of Fort Collins Water Resources Manager Donnie Dustin announced that Fort Collins will almost certainly have water restrictions in place in 2013. Almost certainly?

Farmers rely on water to irrigate crops that pay their wages and make their living. Farmers do not water their lands to make them look pretty. Simply cutting back on the number of irrigated acres is NOT a solution or a viable option. Without water on the vast acres in and around Larimer County, the land turns to dust. Farmers losing their lands and livings results in a local depression of the economy – initially. The final result, of course, is that there are no more farms and no more food. Land does NOT equal farmable land. Farming CANNOT happen without water. Eating CANNOT happen without farming.

When the cities are restricted to necessary water usage, ONLY then should agricultural water be effected – ESPECIALLY in Larimer County, Colorado.

The following has been taken from the Executive Summary of “A Right to Farm Policy” adopted Sept. 2, 1998, found on the Larimer County Website:

“It is the policy of the Board of County Commissioners of Larimer County that ranching, farming, and all manner of agricultural activities and operations within and throughout Larimer County are integral elements of and necessary for the continued vitality of the County’s history, economy, landscape, open space, lifestyle, and culture.

Given their importance to Larimer County, Northern Colorado, and the State, agricultural lands and operations are worthy of recognition and protection.
Because, by law, Colorado is a “Right-to-Farm” State, residents and visitors must be prepared to accept the activities, sights, sounds, and smells of Larimer County’s agricultural operations as a normal and necessary aspect of living in a county with a strong rural character and a healthy agricultural sector.

People with urban expectations may perceive agricultural activities, sights, sounds, and smells as inconvenient, an eyesore, or unpleasant, however, state law and county policy provide that ranching, farming, or other agricultural activities and operations within Larimer County shall not be considered to be nuisances so long as operated in conformance with the law and in a non-negligent manner.

Residents and visitors must be prepared to encounter noises, odors, lights, mud, dust, smoke, chemicals, machinery and livestock on public roads, storage and disposal of manure, and the application of chemical fertilizers, soil amendments, herbicides, and pesticides, by spraying and other mechanisms.

All landowners, whether agricultural business, farm, ranch or residence, have obligations under state law and county regulation. For example they must maintain fences and adhere to open range laws which say livestock must be fenced out.
Irrigators have the right to maintain irrigation ditches through established easements that transports water for their use. Irrigation ditches are not to be used for the dumping of refuse.

Landowners are responsible for controlling weeds, keeping pets under control, using property in accordance with zoning, maintaining the environmental resources of the property wisely.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to learn about these rights and responsibilities and act as good neighbors and citizens of Larimer County.

The Board of County Commissioners shall establish a dispute resolution procedure with mediators to informally resolve conflicts that may arise between landowners or residents relating to agricultural operations or activities. When rural residents cannot come to an agreement or understanding about fences, ditches, livestock, or other agricultural issues, this may be the forum used to resolve disputes.

Mediators must be knowledgeable, solution oriented, and at least one such mediator in each dispute must be directly involved in agriculture or an agricultural producer must serve in an advisory role to the trained mediator.”

This is an agricultural community. Let’s act like we support the agriculture that actually happens here.

Kathryn Warnick
Rock Soup Ranch, LLC

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