Valley farmer fears Colorado River water cuts will harm future of Arizona’s agriculture

Sep 6, 2022, 10:08 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)...

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

PHOENIX – Recent Colorado River water cuts are making it increasingly difficult for Arizona farms to get by, says one Valley farmer.

Jace Miller, a partner and manager of Triple M Farms, which operates land in Gilbert, Queen Creek and Eloy, said the latest river restrictions will threaten his operations, which typically employs about 15-20 people.

“We’re trying everything in our power to not have to cut equipment out of our program, or worse – have to lay off employees,” Miller told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“But unfortunately with the current status of everything, I think we’re going to have to probably downsize.”

And that’s a big deal to Miller, whose family started the farm in 1919.

“Three times a day, whether you go to your refrigerator, your pantry, you pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru, or you sit down at your local restaurant, you can thank a farmer or rancher,” Miller said.

He said water conservation is an issue and worried for the future of Arizonans if the water situation gets worse. But he also wondered if farmers aren’t becoming the scapegoat for the state’s water shortages.

“We’re losing farmland every day, we’re losing water allotment every day, but we are growing our municipalities … and we’re growing in population, and our water crisis is worsening,” Miller said.

“[Does] the possibility need to come to the table for us to talk about, ‘hey, maybe we should try to pump the brakes on growth.’ We can’t have unfettered growth in the desert.”

He speculated that eventually the water situation will begin to affect development.

“If we don’t have water to farm, they’re not going to have water to build residential homes or commercial industry, and so all this land is going to be useless. There’s going to be no value to it. It’s just going to turn back to desert and it’s going to be a giant dust bowl.”

He said the water cuts to farmers were “unfair.”

“Why can’t we have an equal cut across the board, so this impact is felt at a much smaller degree across the entire lower basin?” he said.

The river’s lower basin is made up of Arizona, California and Nevada.

Regardless, Miller doesn’t think the cuts will stop the water shortage and is hoping for a long-term solution soon.

“This is going to be a primary issue for the average American citizen living here in the Southwest really soon, and it would behoove us to get everybody on board before it’s too late.”

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Valley farmer fears Colorado River water cuts will harm future of Arizona’s agriculture