Skip to content

Koch Discusses Saudi Arabian Farms Using Water From Arizona and California in KUSA Article

April 29, 2023


Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch

A Saudi Arabian company grows alfalfa on farmland in Arizona and California and sends it overseas to feed the country’s cows. These legal farming operations extract groundwater in Arizona and water from the Colorado River across the border in California, experts say. 

The country finalized a ban in 2018 on the growth of alfalfa and other crops that were straining its water supply says Natalie Koch, professor of geography and the environment, and likely chose to farm in Arizona and California because alfalfa grows quickly in desert climates like those of La Paz County (Arizona) and Blythe (California).

“If you have enough water to pump to irrigate it, then you can get many cuts [of alfalfa] in a year in a desert,” Koch says.

“If you can invest the capital to drill a deep well that can get deep into the groundwater supply, then you can really pump as much as you want,” says Koch. “This was appealing to the Saudis as well to go [to La Paz County], where they’re not being charged for water they extract because there’s no measuring of it.”

Read more in the KUSA article, “Yes, a Saudi Arabian company uses water from Arizona and California to grow alfalfa.”

Communications and Media Relations Office
200 Eggers Hall