HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Foreign Firms Sucking "Vi...

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 02:18 PM

Foreign Firms Sucking "Virtual" Water From America's Parched Southwest



June 2, 2021
Foreign Firms Sucking “Virtual” Water From America’s Parched Southwest
Export of water-intensive crops has been accelerating for decades.
Diana Kruzman
This article was originally published by Undark and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.


Driving into Southern California’s Palo Verde Valley from the Arizona border, fields of vibrant green appear out of the desert like a mirage. Near the town of Blythe, water from the Colorado River turns the dry earth into verdant farmland, much of it to grow a single crop—alfalfa, a type of plant used mainly to feed dairy cows.

For decades, a significant portion of alfalfa grown here and elsewhere in the western United States—as much as 17 percent in 2017—has been loaded onto trucks, driven hundreds of miles to ports on the west coast, and shipped around the world, mainly to China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. A little over five years ago, one company decided it made more sense to own the land, and the water that came with it, outright.

The company, a Saudi Arabian dairy firm called Almarai, purchased 1,790 acres in the Palo Verde Valley to secure a supply of alfalfa for its dairy cows. Soon after, Saudi Arabia began phasing out domestic alfalfa production to preserve its water supplies, which were dwindling after years of overuse for agriculture. The purchase made headlines as critics including local politicians and environmentalists questioned whether it was fair for a foreign entity to use up valuable groundwater resources for products that wouldn’t ultimately benefit Americans.


But the company is far from alone. Foreign corporations are increasingly purchasing land in the US; in the Southwest, thanks to longstanding laws on water rights, these purchases often come with unlimited access to the valuable water underneath the soil. Combined with nearly year-round sunshine, this has made the area a magnet for companies looking to grow water-intensive crops and raise livestock. Over the last 20 years, foreign companies have purchased more than 250,000 acres of land in six Southwestern states to raise cattle and pigs, as well as to grow everything from almonds to alfalfa, according to an analysis of purchase data that Undark obtained from the US Department of Agriculture.

On its face, foreign ownership of farmland hasn’t proved significantly different from American ownership for large-scale production of crops like alfalfa. Domestic farmers have long shipped food overseas, and companies like Almarai, as well as independent researchers, have suggested the outsized focus on foreign companies may be xenophobic. American farmers and companies also control millions of acres overseas, mainly in Africa, Asia, and South America. But with their implications for food and water security—that ultimately, the US is not in control of its own farmland—the purchases are drawing attention to the larger trend of industrial agriculture in the US and the problems that come with it.

more...

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/06/foreign-companies-export-virtual-water-american-drought-southwest/

8 replies, 765 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 02:36 PM

1. I understand almond cultivation takes an inordinate amount of water too.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 02:36 PM

2. There are so many things wrong with this practice.

SA and China finance these purchases on the backs of Americans who buy their oil and cheap products - which are made available through sweat shops and imported labor.

I sound like a protectionist/isolationist but f*ck this upsets me.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Probatim (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 02:39 PM

3. Yeah, this stull helps their water conservation and hurts ours.

We've got to get a handle on this. They're exhausting our resources and saying theirs'

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 03:45 PM

4. States like AZ, UT, WY, MT with their red legislators would prefer to stroke each other's ego

And try and keep their base fired up than deal with REAL problems. The water issue in the west and SW is grave they need to be putting forth real solutions now

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PortTack (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 05:43 PM

8. Why didn't you mention CA since that is where the OP is describing the problem?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 04:30 PM

5. Al Marai dairy products are super good... now I know why

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 05:31 PM

6. The Great Lakes governors really need to band together.

Stop any water diversion dead and kick out water bottling operations.

I can see the issue on the horizon.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jun 3, 2021, 05:40 PM

7. 1+

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread