Our nation needs agriculture and agriculture needs water. Those points came through clearly as Paul Genho, PhD, discussed water issues in a Cattlemen’s College presentation at the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention this week in Tampa. Genho, who currently is president of Farmland Reserves Inc., is well known across the industry as a former manager of the King Ranch in Texas and the Deseret Ranch in Florida. His presentation summarized a white paper titled “Agricultural Water: Protecting the future of our nation,” recently published by the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management.

Agriculture, Genho says, shaped and sustained our past, provides abundant food, fuel and fiber today and will determine our future. And, he stresses, agricultural productivity in the United States plays a key role in economic and social stability across the globe. “What happens in a cornfield in Iowa influences food supplies in Pakistan,” he says. When U.S. agricultural production drops, high food prices create unrest and instability overseas, such as during last year’s “Arab Spring.” Instability in the Middle East leads to higher energy prices, which result in higher production costs for U.S. farmers and reductions in food production – a vicious cycle.

The white paper resulted from a stakeholder meeting held in May 2012, where participants focused on three areas: water supply, water resource stewardship and long-term water policy.