Inflation Reduction Act funding helps Yuma farmers grow sustainably

Farmers in Yuma are using money from the Inflation Reduction Act to cut down on water for their crops.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 4:34 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s been a year since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, allocating $40 billion for farms and rural communities across the U.S. Its purpose is to maintain a food supply while addressing the impact of agriculture on climate change.

“It will allow farmers the ability to lower energy costs, to create food sustainability,” said Charlene Fernandez, USDA state director. She says the money is already helping farmers expand their operations in a sustainable way. “My job here is to make sure this product is grown safe and gets to your tables safely,” says Fernandez.

Yuma is one of the primary winter vegetable producers in the U.S. Valentin Sierra with Amigo Farms said they’ve implemented sustainable practices, but grant money from the IRA would help them incorporate even more efficient practices. “It would help us use more technology in leveling the ground so we can use less water when we are irrigating. It would help us use other equipment; instead of using sprinkler irrigation, we could use drip tape,” he said. Drip tape is a technique that sends water directly to the root of the crop and, in turn, helps save water.

“The more scarce the water, the pricing is going to go up, it might put some growers out of business,” Sierra said. “We’ve had a number of farms in Pinal County that would be out of business if it wasn’t for this program, and when it goes out of business, you create a fallow field that produces dust,” said Ethan Orr, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension associate director for Agriculture and Natural Resources and Economic Development.

Driven by research, Orr and his team at the University of Arizona work closely with farmers across the state to help them improve farming practices. He said in the Yuma Valley, most farmers already farm at 90% efficiency. “And so the question is do we want to support our farmers, maintain food and a healthy environment or not,” Orr says.

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