Proposal to buy out Texas rice growers

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The latest out of the rice production areas of eastern Texas is that the president of the Central Texas Water Coalition (CTWC) has proposed that rice farmers be bought out so the water they use is available for urban residents and businesses.

In January, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) voted unanimously to once again curtail water from the Colorado River for use by rice farmers in 2013 just as it did in 2012. The economic impact has been as tough or tougher on crop consultants of the region as the farmers. And in these rural counties, the economic impact is quite large when you trace the jobs and dollars that are connected to the rice industry.

As many people have pointed out, not growing rice so that city residents and businesses can water lawns or hotels don’t have to change bathroom fixtures to conserve water, isn’t the right priority. Rice feeds people, and that is important.

Jo Karr Tedder, the CTWC president, is reported to also be standing up against officials of the LCRA by suggesting it abandon plans to construct a series of small reservoirs adjacent to rice farms in three counties. The idea behind the reservoirs is for providing water for growing rice while reducing demand for river water during peak times.

From what has been published about Tedder’s opinions, the water coalition president thinks the LCRA should use the reservoir construction money to buy rice land and eliminate the high demand of water for rice production. The economics are unlikely to pan out, unless by eliminating the water allotment to farmers, farmland prices crash.

Tedder is also being called out by farmers for overestimating the use of water for rice production and publicizing unrealistic low prices paid by growers compared to city residents.

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