In Arizona, Corporate Farms Slurp Water and Profit, But Towns Don't

In Arizona, Corporate Farms Slurp Water and Profit, But Towns Don't

Large corporate farms have moved into the desert lands of western Arizona, causing an unregulated drilling frenzy of industrial-sized wells that require irrigation water. At the same time, regional groundwater is so scarce in places like La Paz County, Arizona that household wells are drying up and local water companies advise customers to restrict home water use to make sure there’s enough to shower and flush.

About five years ago corporate farms, owned by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates concerns, began buying fallowed farmland and converting it into hay and alfalfa fields, crops that are largely being exported to those countries for dairy cow feed. The mammoth farms span entire valleys and need huge wells, which pump out billions of gallons every year.

People are fed up because they receive little benefit from the farms while their groundwater levels drop. Some local government officials and residents now seek groundwater taxes and regulation to curb major withdrawals by corporate farms. Most locals aren’t opposed to farming since it’s been an economic stalwart, they just want limits to water use in the desert.

[Arizona Republic]