Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA) is a nonprofit social enterprise working to benefit the environment and agriculture.
In theory, FCA began in 1996 when the Farmers Irrigation District (FID) of Hood River, Oregon lost its irrigation infrastructure due to a severe flood event on the Hood River.
Left without a way to deliver water to their farmers or generate revenue with their hydroelectricity plants, and seeking a solution to the problems they had with their previous fish screens, FID staff began brainstorming ways to restore their district. Intrigued by the concept of horizontal fish screens, the irrigation district went to state agencies, nonprofits, and tribes and asked for their support in developing a new type of fish screen. After ten years of research and testing, FID created the Farmers Screen, a self-cleaning, horizontal screen that protects fish and manages debris.
To honor the collaborative effort that made the screen possible, as well as to ensure that the screen would always be used to benefit the common good, FID patented the Farmers Screen technology. In 2006, FID licensed the Farmers Screen to the Farmers Conservation Alliance with the conditions that FCA take the screen to market, address institutional barriers to widespread screen installation, and use profits for other solutions that benefit both the environment and agriculture.
Since this time, FCA has worked to receive regulatory approvals, establish a proof of concept, and prepare for widespread screen installations. Over the last six years, FCA has installed twenty-four fish screens in 4 states, in a variety of political, social, and terrain conditions. In addition, and perhaps most critical to FCA’s future success, FCA received National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approval for the Farmers Screen in July 2011. This NMFS approval allows FCA to move beyond experimental technology installations and begin widespread national and international screen dissemination.
To learn more about FCA’s formation and history, read the Farmers Irrigation District’s Case Study
. To learn more about FCA’s accomplishments, visit the Impact and Metrics
1996: Massive flood event destroys the infrastructure of Farmers Irrigation District in Hood River, Oregon. FID staff and board decide to design a new kind of fish screen, one that would have no moving parts and be safe for fish at all life stages.
2001: Construction of first Farmers Screen installation – an 85 cfs prototype screen proves self-cleaning, no moving parts design works. Subsequent biological fish test studies prove the design is safe for fish at all life stages.
2005: FID receives patent for Farmers Screen in USA and Canada.
2006: FCA is founded and is licensed the patent, along with the charge to invest profits into programs that benefit fish and farms.
2006 – 2007: FCA installs 4 Farmers Screens, ranging in size from 9cfs – 65 cfs, all in Oregon. Receives USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant award.
2008: FCA’s Farmers Screen installation on Crabtree Creek is featured on the front page of 8/14 issue of The Oregonian newspaper.
2009: FCA receives grant award from Lemelson Foundation and loan support from RSF.
2008 – 2009: FCA begins installing new modular design Farmers Screens with 10 installations spread throughout OR, ID, MT, and WY and also launches 2 successful education and outreach campaigns: Rural Roots and The Navigator.
2010: FCA and the story of the Farmers Screen featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s weekly show, Oregon Field Guide, seen by viewers throughout Oregon, Idaho, and in the Seattle and Spokane areas of Washington.
2011: FCA receives federal approval for the Farmers Screen as a NOAA NMFS “Approved Technology”