A partnership between Western United Dairies (WUD) and the California Cattle Council (CCC) will help farmers and ranchers address water issues. The new position of Director of Sustainability has been established to help facilitate better industry communication and access to resources. In her new role, Aubrey Bettencourt is working with stakeholders and agency partners in developing a successful path forward for water sustainability for the entire industry.
“It is a position that is open and available to all members of the dairy and cattle communities regardless of membership of trade organization, regardless of creamy or co-op,” said Bettencourt. “My services and my office of services are completely available to any and all.”
One of the pillars of the new initiative is to better understand what is needed long-term to keep farming operations viable in the face of limited water supplies. The goal is to learn from farmers what exactly is needed to help improve water sustainability through various outreach opportunities. Bettencourt explained that farmers know best how to solve problems on their operations, but those approaches and ideas need to be communicated further. With better understanding will come better points of reference to seek financial and technical assistance.
The third focal point of the initiative is to bolster strategic partnerships to continue to advance some of the programs and technologies that are already helping to address water issues. Bettencourt noted that there is already an array of water sustainability projects implemented across the industry. Now it is time to take the successes of those pilot projects and make them standard practices. While the concept of sustainability can be somewhat nebulous, WUD and CCC have adopted a more precise definition within the dairy and cattle communities.
“It is economic viability to achieve environmental outcome. So, we don’t believe that they are mutually exclusive. If our farms and our ranches and our dairies are not economically successful, they will never achieve the environmental goals we’re trying to achieve. That includes our own drought resilience. That includes our own water supply development,” Bettencourt explained. “Everything we’re looking at, everything we’re doing is through that lens to keep our farmers farming, our ranchers ranching, and our communities vibrant.”