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Koch Quoted in The Hill Article on Saudi Arabian Alfalfa Farms in Arizona

May 10, 2023

The Hill

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch

Some areas in Arizona do not contain "Active Management Areas," zones that require groundwater regulation under state code. This nonrestrictive environment has attracted not only local and domestic farmers, but also international companies that are unable to grow such water-intensive crops at home.

Saudi Arabia finalized a near-ban in November 2018 on cultivating alfalfa and other crops, with the goal of easing pressure on water resources. To overcome the inevitable shortages, the kingdom directed dairy farms to turn to imports.

“If they want to be able to guarantee their population food security, they know that they can’t really do that domestically,” says Natalie Koch, professor of geography and the environment and author of  “Arid empire: The entangled fates of Arizona and Arabia.”

The Arizonan land was particularly appealing to the kingdom “because you can get more bang for your buck when you buy that farm,” says Koch.

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