Arizona Shuts Off Saudi-owned Farm from State’s Groundwater

( – Arizona’s Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs has canceled the lease of a Saudi-owned farm for violating its terms. Fondomonte Arizona is a subsidiary of Almarai, a company that grows alfalfa to feed livestock in Saudi Arabia. It is illegal to grow alfalfa in the Gulf Kingdom because of the large amount of water it requires, and Governor Hobbs said Fondomonte broke its lease by continuing to “pump unchecked amounts of groundwater out of our state.”

Fondomonte said it would appeal the Governor’s decision, but she noted that water use was not the only violation. The company was found to be in breach of its lease in 2016 due to its storage practices, and when investigated again in August, there were no improvements – giving the Governor the legal right to terminate the contract.

The Grand Canyon State has experienced a water crisis for years, and locals are increasing their complaints about foreign-owned companies worsening the drought. In August, cattle rancher Brad Mead told CBS News that his land was running dry while neighboring farm Fondomonte seemed to have no such problems.

While the Saudi company is not breaking the law, its presence in the arid southwestern state has political and social implications. Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes said, “We cannot afford to give our water away frankly to anyone, let alone the Saudis.” He said Fondomonte uses “millions upon millions of gallons of precious groundwater.”

The presence of foreign firms in the US is causing growing unease among Americans. Several states have taken legislative action to address these concerns. The most recent is Florida, which has banned Chinese nationals from buying property in the Sunshine State. Governor Ron DeSantis said, “Florida is taking action to stand against the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat – the Chinese Communist party.”

Since 2021, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have all proposed or passed legislation limiting or prohibiting foreign ownership of land or property.

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