U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, welcomed Carbon County resident Pat O’Toole to testify for the committee last week.
President of Family Farm Alliance, O’Toole at a hearing to examine short- and long-term solutions to extreme drought in the western United States.
Barrasso introduced O’Toole to the committee prior to his testimony, as outlined in a press release from the senator’s office.
“I would like to take this moment to introduce Pat O’Toole of Savery, Wyoming, who is going to be testifying shortly,” Brrasso said. “He is the president of the Family Farm Alliance, also a cattle and sheep rancher and hay grower.
“He and his wife, Sharon, live on a ranch that has been in her family since 1881, which was nine years before Wyoming even became a state. The O’Toole family and Ladder Ranch were the recipients of the 2014 Wyoming Leopold Environmental Stewardship Award.
In his written testimony, O’Toole pointed out the domino effect of drought in the West.
“Today’s hearing could not come at a better time,” wrote O’Toole, who also is a former state legislator. “Americans are facing rising food costs and the potential for global famine looms on the horizon. Amid concerns of higher food prices and growing concerns of a looming global wheat shortage, the recent national infant formula shortage has further underscored the importance of a strong national domestic food supply system.”
O’Toole also highlighted the impact of brutal wildfires consuming huge swaths of land in the West.
“Fierce Western wildfire disasters are becoming an annual occurrence,” he said. “This underscores the importance of improving on-the-ground management and restoration actions that can lead to improved forest health, which benefits every Western watershed’s water supply capability.”
O’Toole concluded by emphasizing the importance of local decision-making in Western water management.
“The key to our family’s success has been local leadership and uncommon collaboration with diverse partners to address our unique challenges and capitalize on opportunities,” he said. “Farmers must be at the center of all discussions and decision-making on the Colorado River and other Western watersheds.
“Significant input will be needed from a wide range of farmer and other producer organizations outside of typical policy-making structures. We all must become more adaptable and open to change. We must learn from those who have experience.”
For more information on O’Toole’s testimony and the hearing, visit tinyurl.com/28thy7jk.