Category Archives: Farm Economics

The Politics of Nebraska’s Water Future

As the 2014 midterm elections approach, many state and local governments will make key decisions on water policies. In Rod Smith’s last Post, he discussed the issues surrounding the proposed water bond in California. (To make or view predictions on the California Water Bonds, visit the Stratecon Water Policy Marketplace).  In other states, water resources issues are playing key roles in the legislative and gubernatorial elections. In this piece, I will focus on how water issues pertaining to both agriculture and fracking are playing into the mid-term elections in Nebraska. Continue reading

Can Oil and Water Mix? The Challenge of Fracking in Drought Parched States

As I write this article from Boston (where the snow has covered the grass in front of my school and apartment for weeks), I wish that I could easily transport some of this snow to parts of the country that need it. Other parts of the west, particularly in California are facing some of the worst drought conditions ever recorded. As Rod Smith pointed out in his Post earlier this week, the California State Water Project has announced a zero percent allocation, casting serious doubt over the reliability of one of California’s most important water resources. In times like these where there is much more demand for water than supply, what groups should receive water?

Well, the answer to that depends on whom you ask. In the midst of this debate, interest groups in California and across the Western United States have rallied to put a stop to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in areas that face extreme droughts. These groups argue that even barring the environmental concerns that fracking could cause, giving water to drilling companies in times of drought will put even further strains on our water resources in these drought stricken areas. In this piece I will discuss both sides of the issue, and address whether the potential positives of fracking can outweigh the negative ramifications of over-using water resources in times of drought. Continue reading

Can other states learn from the steps that Kansas is taking to reduce the impact of water shortages?

In the last two weeks, I have discussed how Oklahoma’s urban areas are looking to build new water infrastructure to supply its thirsty citizens and farmers in the northern part of the state (Please see Oklahoma Water Battle).  In many states across the country (including Texas, California, Oklahoma and New Mexico), citizens and agriculture users face water shortages that cause significant economic and social challenges. Yet many states like California are pursuing costly infrastructure programs that do little to change the long-term supply challenges.  In the face of these issues, can we learn from states that are taking a pro-active approach to providing reliable future water supplies? In today’s post, I would like to explore some of the unique programs that Kansas is implementing to address this issue. Continue reading

Changing Economics of Rural to Urban Water Transfers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects U.S. farm income to increase to an inflation-adjusted $110 billion (2005$) in 2013, the highest level in 40 years.  The changing economics on-farm will change the economics of rural-to-urban transfers. Continue reading