Bennet, Marshall Hear from Colorado, Kansas Farmers Combating Drought During Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing in Burlington

Denver — U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources, and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ranking Member, held a subcommittee field hearing in Burlington, Colorado. 

“Today’s farmers and ranchers face a 1,200-year drought, a changing climate, and a future that keeps getting hotter and drier. Yet America’s agriculture conservation programs haven’t kept pace with a West that looks very different from the Dust Bowl era,” said Bennet. “I was grateful to hear today from experts, producers, and partners concerned for rural America's future. America’s farmers need our agriculture conservation programs to be much more flexible and allow for innovation because the future of rural America depends on whether the next generation decides to continue operating their family farms and ranches.” 

“Colorado and Kansas share much more than a border. For about ten of the last fifteen years, we’ve shared this drought – and I believe that water will be the defining issue of our states for not just the near future, but for generations ahead,” said Marshall. “Farmers and ranchers need federal assistance to maintain their livelihoods and to produce our nation's food supply, but they need more flexibility. Unfortunately, bureaucracy in DC sometimes delays the process. I’m confident that we’ll come out of today’s field hearings with innovative solutions for farmers and ranchers in our corner of the country and beyond.”

During the hearing, the senators heard from Western producers and agricultural leaders – including Colorado Department of Agriculture Water Advisor Robert Sakata, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, Colorado State Senator Cleave Simpson, Colorado Farm Bureau President Carlyle Currier, Republican River Water Conservation District Director Don Brown, and Kansas Water Office Director Constance C. Owen – who highlighted the successes and limitations of existing federal drought tools and help inform new mechanisms to deal with persistent drought in the arid plains.

Colorado and Kansas producers are on the frontlines of a hotter, drier future, facing historic drought. Farmers and ranchers are a critical part of the solution; they help conserve water while producing food to feed the world.