Saudi farming company can’t use their country’s water for crops — so they’re taking it from Arizona

Saudi farming company can’t use their country’s water for crops — so they’re taking it from Arizona

A Washington Post exposé revealed that Saudi Arabia is aware that their options for growing crops in the desert are limited. It takes a hefty amount of water to grow alfalfa and it appears the country doesn't want to waste their water doing it. So, they're using water from Arizona.

Arizona is among the states currently suffering from an extended heat disaster. During the so-called "monsoon season," Arizona is able to collect water that can help for times like these. Unfortunately, this heat front has lasted longer than normal, resulting in what the Postcalled a "megadrought."

But while Arizonans are baking "green fields of alfalfa stretch across thousands of acres of the desert land, shimmering in the burning sunlight." The Saudi-owned company sucks wells dry from deep underground, grows their crops, and ships them back.

A memo given to the Post revealed state planners wondered if they should use a meter to capture "accurate information" on the water drained from the valley. But former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) stopped it, saying he wanted to be “cautious of tangling with a powerful company.”

"The proposal also ran headlong into a view, deeply held in the rural West, that water is private property that comes with access to land, rather than a public resource," the Post explained. In a world where water is expected to become a scarce resource, some states are simply giving it away. In Saudi Arabia, the Post explained, their water usage is heavily regulated.

"The inaction was an early sign of how state officials gave leeway to Fondomonte as a global fight for water took root in the Arizona desert," said the report. "Leaving water unprotected amid a drought worsened by climate change has been a boon to Saudi Arabia, where industrial-scale farming of forage crops such as alfalfa is banned to conserve the Persian Gulf nation’s limited water supply."

The Post investigation found that with lobbying efforts using a former influential GOP member of Congress, and lax regulations on the environment, Arizona has become the perfect place for the Saudi-owned corporation to tap the water resources of the desert state.

Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) doled out some tough love, demanding details about the company's water usage. When they refused, she threatened to pull their lease. They finally revealed that they use about as much water as a city of 50,000 people.

Meanwhile, despite the lack of water, California's central valley continues to be one of the largest in the country, growing more than half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the country, said research from NASA and the USDA.

Read more about the expose at the Washington Post.

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