Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA®) is a nonprofit organization focused on realizing agricultural and environmental benefits through the modernization of irrigation systems.
The origins of FCA are rooted in collaboration and innovation. When the Farmers Irrigation District of Hood River, Oregon, lost its irrigation infrastructure due to a severe flood event in 1996, they were left without a way to deliver water to their farmers or generate revenue with hydroelectricity plants. FID used that setback to brainstorm ways to restore their district, including improvements upon their previous fish screens, which were problematic.
Intrigued by the concept of horizontal fish screens, FID went to state agencies, nonprofits, and tribes to ask 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 ensure that the screen would benefit the common good, FID patented the Farmers Screen technology and formed the Farmers Conservation Alliance to take the screen to market. All surplus revenue is invested into other solutions that benefit both the environment and agriculture.
In the early years of installing Farmers Screens, FCA realized the need for an entity to support the comprehensive modernization of irrigation systems. Trying to install modern fish screens within systems that were often 100 years old highlighted many of the limitations that face irrigators in upgrading their systems. In 2015, with support from Energy Trust of Oregon, FCA launched the Irrigation Modernization Program. The IMP designs optimal irrigation systems that utilize the best available technologies to provide reliable water, reduce operations and maintenance costs, and increase local energy generation. By addressing systemic problems in aging water delivery systems, irrigation modernization provides unifying solutions for rural agricultural communities and the environment. FCA is currently working with 18 irrigation districts in Oregon, and is expanding work with irrigation communities throughout the United States.