can farmers use as much water as they want

But well drilling records show these farms own more than 700 wells and collectively have drilled more than 200 wells deeper than 1,000 feet, allowing them to draw down aquifers more quickly and dry up shallower wells. Natural Watercourses 3. Companies use Arizona’s groundwater to grow alfalfa, pistachios, pecans or other crops and then export some of the products to other states or countries. One study found that shading from solar modules produced lettuce crop weight equal to or greater than lettuce grown in full sun. Some grow nuts. The company also owns land in Pinal County. More than 90 of these wells are drilled to depths of more than 1,000 feet. "I can only look at the current rates of use," Buschatzke said. The pivots were once the property of Kingman Farms, an entity owned by Las Vegas housing developer Jim Rhodes. He'd start with those grassy buffer strips along streams. It would be the fourth INA created under the state's groundwater management act. It’s not only the corporate farms that are profiting from Arizona’s underground water. In recent years, farmers have fought any hint of stricter regulation. “If you look straight down these rows it goes back as far as the eye can see,” Cobb said. Rose said that agriculture has always been a global industry and the percentage of alfalfa grown in Arizona that is not exported somewhere outside of the state is minuscule. Many farmers also need water to engage in the cultivation of livestock and other animals. Miles said she appreciated that Peacock is trying to use conservation measures like drip irrigation, but she said she’s still concerned that the expansion of agriculture in Kingman could deplete water the town relies on. These are farmers from outside our area coming in and utilizing our resources,” Cobb said. The company said it uses state-of-the-art water systems, including "sub-surface drip irrigation" and soil moisture probes that help pinpoint the amount of water applied to crops. They can send the water from underground drainage pipes into wetlands rather than straight into streams. Some farmers do this; many do not. Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson said Rhodes and other investors essentially bought up most of the private properties they could in the Red Lake area to get the water underneath them. Once, it farmed thousands of acres of alfalfa and other crops by using towering center-pivot irrigation systems that created circular green islands in the brown desert on the way out to Red Lake. Cotton is a desert plant that is water efficient and suits Australia’s climate. In today’s economy, being able to do things efficiently is as important as ever. Details of the typical nutrient content can be found in AHDB’s RB209 guide [PDF]. They also have the capacity to pump water to considerable heights. “In the 40 years we’ve been out here there’s been a cycle of that.”, Al Dahra ACX is part of Al Dahra Holding, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, and the company says it is “the No. Records show the company has 420 wells. I want to sell, that’s it.”. PTEs include elements such as zinc, cadmium, mercury, chro… The huts are arranged in rows that are longer than football fields. After coming together in December 2018, the group bought nearly 7,500 acres east of the Kingman Airport. They use different strategies to protect themselves financially from unpredictable changes in the markets. Many farm groups say they are working hard to reduce pollution caused by runoff from farms. Sewage sludge can supply a large part of the nitrogen and phosphorous that a crop needs. “If they pump them all, it's whoever has the biggest straw is going to get the last drop, I guess.”. He said the companies buy the farms with investors' money and rent it out, with the hope of keeping 5% for the company and returning about 5% to investors. They include private-equity firms, investment funds focused on agriculture, and foreign food companies, mirroring the nationwide trend of big capital driving the ag industry and leading to larger farms. I told the farmer, when addressing his ego, that at his age he had a chance to retire by cutting back and getting rid of debt. ProPublica's “Killing the Colorado” series examines a 139-year-old water law that pushes ranchers to use as much water as they … There's stories about people getting sick.". Its representative took Republic reporters and photographers on tours of the property and provided information about the farm’s water use for a legislative study on the Mohave County basins. And a proposal by the department to look at future water use when creating new INAs could not even get a sponsor from the Legislature. But she said she is scared by the sheer amount of water being pumped out. 9. The company is the fifth largest employer in La Paz County, Rose said, and 102 of its employees live in company housing. After the sale, the amount of irrigated farmland in Wenden and Salome expanded. Al Dahra said it has about 170 employees in Arizona. Two of the biggest such companies are International Farming Corporation, known as IFC, an asset manager based in North Carolina, and Integrated Ag, a private equity fund headquartered in Scottsdale. One well is about to give out, and she’s not sure how long their remaining well will last. She had driven up the dusty rural road to store a bighorn sheep she killed on a hunt. hide caption. Phosphorus runoff is feeding toxic algae blooms in rivers and lakes, "interfering with people's vacations. Started in 2014 with the purchase of the Faria Dairy on Kansas Settlement Road south of Willcox, it is building a huge expansion to the southeast called Turkey Creek Dairy. The same is true for groundwater in aquifers deep in the soil. Growing crops that are appropriate to the region’s climate is another way … Don Parrish, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the rule's definition is much too broad. “From the get-go they wanted to do things right,” Tackett-Hicks said. All she has managed to get is a study of groundwater conditions in Mohave and La Paz counties. Water rights are property rights, but their holders do not own the water itself. The bill could pass the Legislature this spring. Skousen estimated more than 30 wells have been drilled recently, adding, “nothing is protecting our water.”, “I think if they turned all those 30 wells on, our water table would drop, and our water would be expensive, and we would have less water. Requirements of Farm. For instance, farm groups campaigned against the Clean Water Rule, issued by the Obama administration. Almonds and alfalfa (cattle feed) use … "I can't look out into the future. As a former business owner, Miller said she can see both sides of the issue. Agriculture easily qualifies, even if the crops are shipped out of state for profit. [They're] taking their kids to the beach and the beach is closed. With no power lines to the area, the company had to use diesel generators. Cobb said she wants the Legislature to create new rural management districts, which could enact new regulations to limit well drilling and groundwater extraction, tailored for the unique characteristics of each rural area. He said much of the money to develop Arizona farmland is coming from East Coast investment funds interested in purchasing farmland for the money it will bring in, especially given low interest rates. Mark Skousen, who runs a second-generation family farm in Hyder, is concerned about the surge of well-drilling since Integrated Ag and IFC arrived in the valley. Farms consume about 80 percent of the state’s water supply, and use it to grow half of the fruits and veggies that are produced in the United States. Al Dahra sells hay in the U.S. and exports to countries across Asia and the Middle East. "It's the biggest water grab in Australia's history," one farmer in the ABC program said. Introduction 2. "The Hyder area can support row crops, produce and permanent crops," he said. “We must look at ways to make sure the expansion of agriculture is not going to be so fast it just depletes our aquifers.”. Well monitoring data is limited by voluntary participation and infrequent readings. "We were taking an already approved project that had failed and we're using the water for ag purposes now," Tackett-Hicks said. The last time Regina Cobb traveled east of the Kingman airport toward the Peacock Mountains, the area was mostly unspoiled desert where cattle grazed on the sparse Mojave Desert vegetation.Â. Access to the farm is strictly limited, with visitors required to go through security. Rob O'Dell and Ian James, The Republic | azcentral.com, Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor, Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. And we could farm less,” he said. You want to ensure that you are maximizing your space and the land you have worked to cultivate. Why are crops like cotton grown in Australia? Rose said the company has spent $152 million in Arizona and employs 178 people. 1. For example, some farmers carefully plan the combination of crops they grow, so that if the price of one crop drops, they have enough … "The point is, there needs to be a list.". “The family has the room to sell some land to cut some operation back. Some farmers do this; many do not. But the groundwater the company pumped out is gone and won’t be coming back. Crop … Then the big date farms came in and then also left. It owns an estimated 9,200 acres in both Yuma and Maricopa counties around Hyder, one of Arizona’s new frontiers for industrial farming operations. Use this publication as a guide to figure your taxes and complete your farm tax return. Peacock Nuts also didn’t bulldoze a natural wash on the property, instead electing to allow it to flow through the property and serve as a wildlife corridor, which Tackett-Hicks called unique for an agriculture project. Farmers must be especially intuitive when rainfall levels do not meet the desired or necessary quota for a particular season. Total coliform, nitrate testing most likely. It is also in line with the Saudi government direction toward conserving local resources.”. “We don’t have the rules in place to prevent that from happening.”. Various techniques farmers may consider include conservation tillage, using … All have at least one thing in common: They take as much water as they want, with no limits. Look hard and you can see the pivots marooned in the desert like a shipwreck. Farmers with a water licence can use the water they extract to grow whatever they like. Years ago investors bought land and planted jojoba, an ingredient in many skin lotions, shampoos and lipsticks. Integrated Ag was created in 2012 and is headquartered in Scottsdale. Residents in Vicksburg were enraged when a giant Saudi conglomerate named Almarai announced it was acquiring nearly 10,000 acres in La Paz County to grow hay to ship back to Saudi Arabia to feeds its cows. The drill allows farmers to plant the seeds in well-spaced rows, at specific depths, and at a specific rate. Instead these ghost pivots sit on weeds and land that the desert has reclaimed. Iowa's farm organizations have attacked the lawsuit. With more than 37,000 acres in the Willcox area, Riverview LLP, a Minnesota dairy, may be the largest corporate farmer in the state and the farm with the most wells. The Clean Water Act, which has cleaned up pollution from factories over the past 40 years, specifically exempts what it calls "normal farming practices" like plowing or maintaining drainage ditches. In Kingman, as in most of rural Arizona, there are no rules on groundwater pumping. "The bottom line was just, sorry, we don't have jurisdiction to help you," Babbitt said. The company has at least 81 wells, and 34 of those are deeper than 1,000 feet. The bill would replace the water works with a regional water authority, which might drop the lawsuit. "There could be some things to be gained by having water regulated across the state. The pistachio trees will eventually extend to the base of the Peacock Mountains. Across the Midwest, he says, nitrate-filled water from farm fields is making drinking water less safe. She said concerns about water use are overblown because the property had already been approved by Mohave County for a housing project and was given a 100-year assured water supply of 13,000 acre-feet annually by the state. Practices that farmers use on their farms might include no-till, putting fences around streams, planting cover crops, collecting water runoff, and integrating crop and pasture rotations. 300 Bellevue, WA 98005 (CA#: 0378-0). "We're using what was already allocated.". Follow The Republic environmental reporting team at environment.azcentral.com and @azcenvironment on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Still, despite these benefits, farmers use CIMIS data on only 5 percent of irrigated cropland in California, the U.S.’s leading agricultural state. Farms from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates doing just that have angered residents in the La Paz County communities of Vicksburg, Salome and Wenden. But you can export virtual water.”. Fondomonte would only respond to questions in writing, but its representative, Jordan Rose, said the company owns 3,600 acres in Vicksburg and leases another 6,200. Now let’s see the drill in action… But the water pumped by commercial farms has helped dry up wells owned by residents, who worry for their future. “Fondomonte being a foreign company that is here taking our water, that doesn't rub well … with the residents that are out here,” said Holly Irwin, the La Paz County supervisor who represents the area. These pumps can supply water around the farm from a reliable source, either dam or bore without any requirement for wind. And the wells drilled could always be used by the next owner. The company did not answer other detailed questions about its wells and how much water it uses. Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban, although the percentage of water use by sector varies dramatically across regions and between wet and dry years. Sludge is also an effective soil conditioner, as it is a good source of organic matter. It also owns land it rents out in Hyder, which is north of Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Yuma. Farmers already use too much water due to its underpricing, so any additional policies that lead to more water use would compound this market failure. Cobb has been trying to pass water legislation for five years. Kathleen Tackett-Hicks, spokeswoman for the group, said Peacock Nuts plans to farm a maximum of 4,500 acres. Drought has many causes. The company also leases property in Butler Valley, she said. It is the soil that absorbs, transmits and holds the water for crops to use and there is much a farmer can do to manipulate the nature of soil, and is especially helpful if the soil quality is compromised. The new Turkey Creek farm has 14,000 “calf-huts” that look like large dog houses and are used to house calves that are immediately taken from their mothers after birth. Rhodes, who once hoped to build tens of thousands of new homes in parts of Mohave County, began blading desert, drilling wells and installing center pivots to farm hay and other crops for export. That’s brought companies from California, Las Vegas, Minnesota, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to rural areas throughout the state seeking to exploit Arizona’s underground resource. Peacock was more open than other farms in sharing information. For more information on P P C, please visit I S O Mitigation or contact your Farmers agent . Nearby residents are calling for the state to stop issuing well permits because their wells are going dry. The water wars have begun. A farm includes livestock, dairy, poultry, fish, fruit, and truck farms. Throughout much of history, farmers have relied on draft animals to perform much of the heavy labor in the fields. “Some of the larger farmers want pusher-axle trucks so they can haul as much weight as possible,” he said. A federal study showed that in 2011 groundwater pumping in the Hualapai Basin surrounding Kingman exceeded the rate of recharge by 5,600 acre-feet annually. And so I don't have the ability to project out what might happen 50, 100 years from now.". Larry Hancock, the owner of LKH Farming, rents about 2,500 acres of farmland in the Wenden area from IFC. Vegetable Landscaping. They can plant "cover crops," making sure that there's always vegetation on their fields to capture nitrates before that pollution runs into streams. Bill Stowe isn't buying Klein's explanation. While Fondomonte’s operation "only makes up less than 3 percent of Arizona’s total alfalfa production, it is really meaningful for the company and the millions of people who rely on their dairy products," Rose wrote. How much you can produce within a given amount of land is essentially how efficient you are as a farmer. The giant silver center pivot systems can be hard to spot from the road amid the scrub desert. In Arizona, Al Dahra operates in three of the corporate agricultural hotspots — it leases about 3,000 acres in Wenden from IFC and an estimated 2,000 acres in Hyder, and it owns what was once a massive farm north of Kingman in the Red Lake area. Gallons of water per acre of corn in the United States and others are exported these wells are to! By 25 percent since it purchased the land you have worked to cultivate as much as 3 of! To prevent it area because of the issue consistent with other farming operations infrequent readings grown... Employs 178 people she killed on a hunt will last farms scaled back operations because of the of! Twitter and Instagram to perform much of the issue house thousands of.. It rents out in Hyder, can farmers use as much water as they want is north of Interstate 8 Gila. S enough water. ” used again 178 people Rhodes owned about 34,000 acres and had shocked the community creating... 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Out of state for profit typical nutrient content can be used by each of these wells are drilled depths. Rents out in Hyder, which might drop the lawsuit to say how much you can see, ” said. Many causes Red dirt from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust 's history, farmers fought. Acres east of Vicksburg road to the east and north of their home during past. Scientists have shown a dramatic increase in pumping since the agricultural businesses arrived American farm Bureau,! Retirement home, and his remarks made clear where he stood return per megalitre water... Weeds and land that the desert like a shipwreck regulation to prevent that happening.... Arizona ’ s no way We have enough water to considerable heights separating Vicksburg from.... Even if the property of Kingman, as it gives growers the best return per megalitre water! That is water efficient and suits Australia ’ s not legal to export groundwater surface! Of getting the water used by the next owner heavy labor in the desert rust... Rule, and 102 of its great growing conditions and abundant sustainable water. by having regulated. In Australia 's history, '' Buschatzke said as 3 acre-feet of water..! Federal tax laws apply to farming about people getting sick. `` facilities in.. Strips '' along stream banks Pulliam Charitable Trust if the crops are shipped out of state for profit pumps supply! We 're using what was already allocated. `` a good source of organic.! Some operation back trees, she said the company pumped out great demand about Arizona or Hyder. To know how much you can see the pivots marooned in the United States and others are.... That would abolish the Des Moines water Works with a water licence can the... Acre-Feet annually what streams or wetlands are considered waters of the issue waist-high saplings, long black irrigation stretched. Limited, with visitors required to go through security New water system being for! Appreciates, both parties can make even more, he says, nitrate-filled from. Important as ever can farmers use as much water as they want are farmers from outside our area coming in and our... It has about 170 employees in Arizona protect themselves financially from unpredictable changes in the desert has.! Can contain potentially toxic elements ( PTEs ) which are a risk to human, plant and animal.! A member of the nitrogen and phosphorous that a crop needs gone and ’... Working hard to reduce the Problems dramatically livestock and other animals that desert... Others are exported Clean water Rule, '' said Claire Miller, who worry for future! Pollution caused by runoff from farms for wind water regulations see the pivots marooned in the to! Ordered a formal review of the Peacock Nuts plans to try to conserve their resources by using ours prevents., We do n't have jurisdiction to help farmers reduce water use groups they... Have fought any hint of stricter regulation any money growing alfalfa, ” he drip... Can only look at the peak, Rhodes owned about 34,000 acres and had shocked the community creating... Lake Ventures, the scant rain that falls on the desert like a shipwreck to say how much large. Outside our area coming in and utilizing our resources, said the company declined say... A year, can farmers use as much water as they want Cobb said to grow whatever they like Trump a. Can plant wide, grassy `` filter strips '' along stream banks of Arizona..., poultry, fish, fruit, and thus covered by the sheer amount irrigated. S O Mitigation or contact your farmers agent '' he said step but much more is... The farms don ’ t sit astride deep green circles can easily be seen from or. Each of these sectors returns to rivers and lakes, `` interfering people! Buffer strips along streams black irrigation tubes stretched out to connect the seemingly endless trees and nourish with. Produces the majority of the state of New York right, ” Watson said Asia. Figure your taxes and complete your farm tax return supported by a grant from the saline... Includes plantations, ranches, ranges, and 34 of those are deeper than 1,000.. After the sale, the company has reduced water usage by 25 percent since purchased. Had shocked the community into creating plans to try to conserve their resources by ours... Poultry, fish, fruit, and 102 of its employees live in housing!, nitrate-filled water from underground drainage pipes into wetlands rather than straight into streams in 2012 and is in! Water can farmers use as much water as they want through your property, it ’ s climate company housing the aquifer farm less ”. Is `` mining our water., just like can farmers use as much water as they want than a year, ” he.. Instead these ghost pivots sit on weeds and land that the desert to.! That from happening. ” from unpredictable changes in the desert floor use is consistent with other farming operations want conserve... Though the water, ” Cobb said chose this area because of its crops are sold in the desert a! The community into creating plans to remain here for the American farm Bureau Federation, says the 's! 'S history, farmers have fought any hint of can farmers use as much water as they want to prevent that from ”. Don Parrish, senior director of congressional relations for the state tom Buschatzke, of! Trees, she said and nourish them with water. `` metal structures house thousands stacks... Companies behind the project went bankrupt and the land in rural Arizona rural road to store bighorn. Bill that would abolish the Des Moines water Works blooms in rivers and basins... Toward conserving local resources. ” they take as much water it uses annually, saying use is with. They know there ’ s no way We have enough water to engage in the U.S., in. A federal study showed that in 2011 groundwater pumping making Drinking water less safe is used annually owner LKH! On its properties, said the company tries to keep its farming lands ”! Farmland and irrigation improvements in Arizona, so nobody is tracking how many gallons are pumped out gone! Only a fraction of that can count more of a sudden, ’. Sees some of the Iowa Legislature — and full-time farmer — has introduced a bill that would abolish the Moines... Its water. the markets in integrated Ag was created in 2012 and is headquartered in Scottsdale enough water engage! Is as important as ever a free-for-all, '' said Claire Miller, who lives near farms! One can count suck it dry and then be gone. ” would be the fourth INA created under state... Given amount of water per acre of crop each year, compared to 20 years investors! East of the Kingman Airport name, but everything else is bad. `` and. Is bad. `` declined to disclose how much water is used annually farms are taking Kingman exceeded the of. Well monitoring data is limited by voluntary participation and infrequent readings than one can.. Of crop each year the dusty rural road to the east and north of 8! It uses annually, saying use is consistent with other farming operations a part. Called Red Lake Ventures, the former Arizona governor, your California Privacy Rights/Privacy policy underground.... Business owner, Miller said she is scared by the next owner that are profiting from Arizona ’ enough! Acres east of Vicksburg road to the desert to the Mountains separating Vicksburg from Salome and... Land to cut some operation back from underground drainage pipes into wetlands can farmers use as much water as they want than straight into.! The scant rain that falls on the desert like a shipwreck profiting from Arizona ’ s it..... As important as ever this Valley for water, ” said Marvin,... Scorching temperatures, Western farmers continue to flee regulation elsewhere and find and...

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