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Family farms at risk

Dan Keppen comes to Scott Valley to bring message about farms and ranch issues

by Daniel Webster, Pioneer Press  May 16, 2007 

ETNA - Agricultural land is seen as a water resource, when the pinch in the cities gets tight for their water supplies - and no one is looking at the big picture of what the national implications are for our reliance on other countries for our food supply, Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen told the Republican women at their meeting in Etna last week.

The United States is now importing more food than it is exporting for the first time, with only one percent of the imported food being properly inspected.

"Farm land is the target," Keppen said. "We can't keep taking water away to meet demands."

He encouraged more need for water storage and wants to see leaders begin to look at these options. He considers Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be one of the few who's acknowledging the need for more water storage, and trying to find ways to meet the needs.

Family Farm Alliance is the only west-wide organization with a sole focus on federal water issues, according to Keppen. But the biggest difference, is the organization's belief the farmers are the ones better suited to go to Washington and speak to lawmakers about the issues that affect them, than a "mouthpiece."

Keppen organizes farmers and ranchers to go back to Washington to speak on behalf of Western agriculture.

To meet the challenge, the Family Farm Alliance procured a large grant two weeks ago to explore for the first time, the national implications of the big picture of agriculture and what would eventually be the result of so much ag land taken out of commission, the need for water in large growing areas, such as Las Vegas.

Keppen came down from Klamath Falls to speak to the Siskiyou County Republican Women Federated at their monthly meeting which was held at Bob's Ranch House.

The Family Farm Alliance is an advocate for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission - To ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers.

The Family Farm Alliance was founded ten years ago with one overriding ethic: Agriculture doesn't need another association, but it does need an effective, low cost grass roots group that can get the job done.

To keep costs low, they hire no full time staff. All staff work is done under contract so they maintain flexibility and very low overhead. In addition, they believe that the only effective way to impact elected officials is to have them hear first-hand from farmers and ranchers. While they have legislative advisors under contract, they deliver the key messages through their members.

You can reach Dan Keppen by calling (541) 850-9007 or via email at kep@cvcwireless.net

 Article provided by Barb Hall, Klamath Bucket Brigade.
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