“I told my husband I want to move. "New crops that are less water-intensive and higher value such as hemp and baby potatoes are being produced," the company said in an emailed statement. "All of a sudden, farmers go from farming fields and land that they have always farmed, to farming in 'waters of the U.S.,' " he says. "Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad.". For example, some farmers carefully plan the combination of crops they grow, so that if the price of one crop drops, they have enough … On the way out to the dry Red Lake, where the dirt is so red it once stood in for the surface of Mars in a Hollywood movie, there is a peculiar sight. 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. “They come in with a big idea and sell to their investors, the investors put money in it, then they lose everything and they move on,” she said. 1 forage exporter in the United States.”. Al Dahra said it has about 170 employees in Arizona. Rose said the company has spent $152 million in Arizona and employs 178 people. Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor who signed the landmark groundwater management act in 1980, called the state's letter to Mohave County rejecting the INA "mumbo jumbo.". It also includes plantations, ranches, ranges, and orchards and groves. Cobb has been trying to pass water legislation for five years. Total coliform, nitrate testing most likely. "The company is fully committed to Arizona and plans to remain here for the long-term. “If they pump them all, it's whoever has the biggest straw is going to get the last drop, I guess.”. 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. Sludge is also an effective soil conditioner, as it is a good source of organic matter. It wouldn't take much to have a big impact — if farmers could boost water efficiency by just 4 percent, that would increase the amount of water for cities and businesses by 50 percent. Many insurance companies use the P P C rating and the distance your home is from the nearest legally responding fire department to determine whether they will insure your home and how much to charge. Since they are located closer to local restaurants and supermarkets, urban farmers can supply fresh produce faster and easier. That's what the law says. For instance, farm groups campaigned against the Clean Water Rule, issued by the Obama administration. Many farmers also need water to engage in the cultivation of livestock and other animals. They can send the water from underground drainage pipes into wetlands rather than straight into streams. I want to sell, that’s it.”. These pumps can supply water around the farm from a reliable source, either dam or bore without any requirement for wind. 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 by law. 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. They struggled to make money and eventually left. 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. They can plant "cover crops," making sure that there's always vegetation on their fields to capture nitrates before that pollution runs into streams. Why are crops like cotton grown in Australia? The company also runs three hay pressing facilities in Arizona, California and Washington. Surface water source would invoke other Non Drinking Water regulations. The company did not answer other detailed questions about its wells and how much water it uses. “It’s still water extraction for farming,” she said. Life insurance issued by Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, a Washington domestic company: 3120 139 th Ave. ", On its website, the company says it “continues to invest in growing its farming lands portfolio.”. Combined, the seven companies own, farm or control more than 130,000 acres across the state. And there's no law making it mandatory. Cobb, a Republican representative from Kingman, said the Peacock Nuts operation is "mining our water." Farmers must be especially intuitive when rainfall levels do not meet the desired or necessary quota for a particular season. ProPublica's “Killing the Colorado” series examines a 139-year-old water law that pushes ranchers to use as much water as they … Introduction 2. Across the Midwest, he says, nitrate-filled water from farm fields is making drinking water less safe. Cobb, the Kingman legislator, said she expects large industrial farms to make profits and pull up stakes after all the water is used up. And so I don't have the ability to project out what might happen 50, 100 years from now.". Some grow hay. Starting a landscaping business can be expensive, but farmers who want to opt for a greener path … The operation was set up quickly. Now she sees some of the alfalfa farms struggling. “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. And we could farm less,” he said. “These aren’t local farmers. Wulf declined to say how much water is used annually. Well monitoring data is limited by voluntary participation and infrequent readings. "It's a horrible, horrible rule," he said. Iowa's farm organizations have attacked the lawsuit. 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. 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. Some of the water used by each of these sectors returns to rivers and groundwater basins where it can be used again. And the large corporate farms are all new arrivals, coming to Arizona since 2012. Together the company plans to manage 150,000 cattle on both properties, said spokesman Kevin Wulf. 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. “Anybody can come out here and literally rape the valley of its water. Duarte is managing the farming and provided all the pistachio trees, she said. “They are just going to suck it dry and then be gone.”. There's stories about people getting sick.". Some farmers do this; many do not. Fondomonte has spent $50 million to upgrade the irrigation infrastructure and technology to significantly reduce the water usage on the farm, Rose said, adding the company wants to be in Arizona forever and be "one of the most efficient farming operations possible.". Today 50,000 fewer gallons of water are needed to grow an acre of corn in the U.S., compared to 20 years ago. Jarad Klein, the bill's sponsor, denies that he's trying to get rid of the water works because of that lawsuit; he says he has heard a variety of concerns about the utility's management. After coming together in December 2018, the group bought nearly 7,500 acres east of the Kingman Airport. “The term I heard a lot of years ago was virtual water,” said Marvin Glotfelty, a groundwater expert and consultant. 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. "I can't look out into the future. But that won’t stop the pumping of the aquifer. Throughout much of history, farmers have relied on draft animals to perform much of the heavy labor in the fields. Use It or Lose It Laws Worsen Western U.S. Water Woes. Water rights are property rights, but their holders do not own the water itself. Various techniques farmers may consider include conservation tillage, using … All she has managed to get is a study of groundwater conditions in Mohave and La Paz counties. Phosphorus runoff is feeding toxic algae blooms in rivers and lakes, "interfering with people's vacations. Many farm groups say they are working hard to reduce pollution caused by runoff from farms. The bill could pass the Legislature this spring. Requirements of Farm. "The point is, there needs to be a list.". “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. “We don’t have the rules in place to prevent that from happening.”. Nearby residents are calling for the state to stop issuing well permits because their wells are going dry. Kathleen Tackett-Hicks, spokeswoman for the group, said Peacock Nuts plans to farm a maximum of 4,500 acres. After the sale, the amount of irrigated farmland in Wenden and Salome expanded. More than 90 of these wells are drilled to depths of more than 1,000 feet. It is impossible to know how much water large farms are taking. SE, Ste. The pivots were once the property of Kingman Farms, an entity owned by Las Vegas housing developer Jim Rhodes. "And in some years, annual farmers who grow rice or cotton can make a lot more money leasing their water to people with permanent crops, and they can go on a holiday for a year." Years ago investors bought land and planted jojoba, an ingredient in many skin lotions, shampoos and lipsticks. Studies show that by using drip irrigation, farmers can conserve up to 60% of the water that it would normally take to irrigate their crops using other systems of irrigation. A group of California farmers did the unexpected this year: They beat their water conservation goals. Peacock Nuts is one of seven corporate farms identified by The Arizona Republic as major agricultural groundwater users in Arizona. The round circles of bright green crops created by Riverview's 200 center-pivot irrigation systems fall away from the road as Kansas Settlement slices north and south through the area. But these massive irrigation systems don’t sit astride deep green circles of alfalfa. It would be the fourth INA created under the state's groundwater management act. Cotton is a desert plant that is water efficient and suits Australia’s climate. 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. As long as you get a permit, you can drill a well of any size for any purpose as long as it’s for a beneficial use. Environmental coverage on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is supported by a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Two years ago, the utility sued several nearby counties, demanding that they reduce nitrate levels in the water that flows from farm drainage systems into the Racoon River, which supplies drinking water to Des Moines. They can plant wide, grassy "filter strips" along stream banks. It owns and leases enough land to cultivate as much as 44,000 tons of hay per year. MN Pollution Control Agency/Flickr Many landowners don't know that they need a legal water right to use surface water and groundwater for irrigation. Then the big date farms came in and then also left. IFC declined to comment, citing a policy of not disclosing non-public information. Growing crops that are appropriate to the region’s climate is another way … “These funds are buying up farm ground,” Hancock said, adding that farm real estate is seen as a good investment. Natural Watercourses 3. Small Drinking Water Systems. The company has at least 81 wells, and 34 of those are deeper than 1,000 feet. Instead these ghost pivots sit on weeds and land that the desert has reclaimed. Bill Stowe isn't buying Klein's explanation. Its deepest well is nearly 2,500 feet deep. And there's no law making it mandatory. This publication explains how the federal tax laws apply to farming. In spite of an ongoing drought and scorching temperatures, Western farmers continue to produce food, while also cutting their water use. Use this publication as a guide to figure your taxes and complete your farm tax return. "Water resources in Arizona must be managed wisely in order to preserve our quality of life and to protect the state’s economic health," Al Dahra said. The invention of the seed drill gave farmers much greater control over depth, spacing, and it allowed them the ability to cover seeds without back-tracking. Integrated Ag was created in 2012 and is headquartered in Scottsdale. As a former business owner, Miller said she can see both sides of the issue. 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. Peacock was more open than other farms in sharing information. 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. 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. They also have the capacity to pump water to considerable heights. The same is true for groundwater in aquifers deep in the soil. 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. So it’s just scary. The state doesn't require meters on wells in rural Arizona, so nobody is tracking how many gallons are pumped out. “We must look at ways to make sure the expansion of agriculture is not going to be so fast it just depletes our aquifers.”. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it. The company would only respond to questions in writing and didn't answer many of The Republic's questions. ", Peggy Judd, a Cochise County supervisor, is a huge proponent of farming in the Willcox area, particularly the Riverview dairy. Peacock Nuts, a consortium that includes the largest permanent crop nursery in the United States, has even bigger plans: 4,500 acres and as many as 650,000 pistachio trees. It takes about 26 gallons of water to produce one ear of corn while it takes about 2000-2500 gallons of water … "There could be some things to be gained by having water regulated across the state. Whatever they like U.S. and exports to countries across Asia and the land do things right, can farmers use as much water as they want said! Timony, a Republican representative from Kingman, as in most of rural Arizona, California and Washington to! 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