Arizona Governor ends controversial land lease with Saudi farming company
Fondomonte Arizona was accused of wasting groundwater
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs moved on Monday to end the state’s controversial land lease with a Saudi farming company that grows alfalfa in the desert west of Phoenix and ships the hay to the Middle East.
The company, Fondomonte Arizona, leased 3500 acres of land for $25 per acre. Under existing state law, the company was allowed to pump as much groundwater as it needed for no additional cost. According to state records, Fondomonte used 5.3 billion gallons of water last year.
“It’s unacceptable that Fondomonte has continued to pump unchecked amounts of groundwater out of our state while in clear default on their lease. I’m proud my administration has taken swift action to hold defaulting high-volume water users accountable and bring an end to these leases. And moving forward, I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Arizona’s water so we can continue to sustainably grow for generations to come,” said Governor Katie Hobbs in a news release.
Hobbs accused Fondomonte of violating the terms of its lease with the state. Hobbs terminated one lease and indicated the state would not renew three additional leases with the company when those leases expire in February.
Fondomonte responded with the following statement:
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