Organic Consumers Association

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Ranchers, Farmers Seeking Solutions to U.S Water Worries

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page and our Farm Issues page.

BLOOMING GROVE, Texas - Texas cattle rancher Gary Price knows what it is like to worry about water.

With 2,500 acres of rough range land situated about an hour south of Dallas, Price relies on rain-fed soils to provide the hearty grass forage he needs to fatten his cattle. When the animals are sold at grocery meat counters, every pound of flesh spells potential profit for Price's family.

"Ranching is really mostly about water and grass. So you've got to look at ways to control water," Price said in an interview at his 77 Ranch, where temperatures over 100 degrees drive his cattle into the shade every day and have spurred swarms of hungry grasshoppers.

A recent stretch of devastating drought in Texas and fears of ongoing water scarcity across many parts of the United States are pushing Price and others in ranching and farming into new frontiers of water conservation.

In Price's case, that means teaming up with a corporate partner, water-thirsty MillerCoors Brewing Co. The second-largest U.S. brewer has been helping him build fences for new grazing rotations and plant native prairie grasses that grow thick, retain rainwater and limit runoff.

Corporate America's concerns about water availability are not new, but of late they are growing. More than 40 international corporate leaders met in June in Rio De Janeiro to reaffirm the need for concerted action to address a growing water crisis.

Across the globe, water consumption has tripled in the last 50 years, and at least 36 U.S. states are anticipating some areas of water shortages by 2013, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Farming alone consumes 70 percent of all fresh water used around the world.

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