 Water Resources 

Irrigation Association Hosts Legislative Fly-in

By Elizabeth McCartney

On March 8, representatives from 11 Irrigation Association member companies traveled to Washington, D.C., to promote the importance of efficient irrigation in both the agriculture and landscape sectors. This event was a unique opportunity for IA members to speak directly with lawmakers and provide insight into the challenges and opportunities their companies are facing on the ground.

The group also took time to educate congressional offices about current legislative opportunities for the irrigation industry. By the end of the day, attendees had met with 28 congressional offices. By sharing their expertise, IA members hope to foster the adoption of efficient irrigation technologies and establish the IA as a relied-upon source of information during the production of policies affecting our water resources.

The congressional meetings made up day two of the two-day Water Resources Congressional Summit hosted by the IA in partnership with the National Ground Water Association and the Water Quality Association. On March 7, these three groups met for presentations and issue briefings around water-related issues. Attendees heard from a variety of experts on tax reform, the budget process and infrastructure spending. Former House

Majority Leader Richard Gephardt also addressed the group and shared insight into the current mood in Washington and the outlook for this year’s legislative agenda.

Advancing Efficient Irrigation

During the fly-in, IA members made sure to focus on ways to promote efficient irrigation through upcoming legislative and budgetary activity. With 2018 Farm Bill activity underway in both the House and Senate, IA members made sure to promote the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This voluntary conservation program, authorized by the farm bill, provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land.

On the landscape side, IA members focused on educating policymakers about the WaterSense program. WaterSense is a voluntary, public-private partnership program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Its mission of reducing the strain on the nation’s aging water infrastructure by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services is timely and important. IA has partnered with EPA since the inception of WaterSense in 2006.

Chris Mitchell of Ewing Irrigation attended the IA 2017 Fly-in to promote efficient irrigation before Congress.

Promoting Infrastructure Investment

During their meetings on Capitol Hill, IA members highlighted the fact that the irrigation industry’s 21st century technologies are currently being used with 19th century infrastructure. With President Donald Trump’s focus on investments in the nation’s infrastructure, IA members made sure to carry the message about the importance of including water infrastructure investments in any infrastructure package. While the irrigation industry is proud to offer state-of-the- art technology that promotes efficient irrigation, this technology can only take us so far.

Elizabeth McCartney is the senior policy and advocacy manager at the Irrigation

Association. In this

role, she monitors and advocates for policies and legislation that support the irrigation industry and works to engage stake- holders at all levels of government. McCartney holds a master of public policy degree from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in

Tony LaFetra, left, president of Rain Bird Corporation, and Mike Donoghue, director of Rain Bird Corporation – Golf Division, met with Rep. Grace Napolitano, D – Calif., during the fly-in.

political science and communication from the University of Cincinnati.

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