Why Are Saudis Buying Up Farmland in Drought-Stricken Western U.S.?
As western U.S. states suffer through droughts and water shortages, foreign companies are buying farmland there to alleviate water shortages of their own.
For instance, Saudi Arabia's largest dairy company bought up 15,000 acres in California and Arizona to harvest alfalfa for cattle.
As the Saudis and other foreign-owned companies drill wells and drain aquifers, some farmers are sounding the alarm about what's happening and asking why this is legal.
The reporter who broke the story, Nathan Halverson, explained it on Happening Now. He said that essentially, the United States is exporting water to Saudi Arabia in the form of alfalfa and hay.
Halverson said these countries can't ship the amount of water they need, so instead they're buying land and growing the crops here.
He was asked whether there are any restrictions in place amid record-low water levels in the West.
"The short answer is no," he said, pointing out that aquifers are going to dry up sooner than previously thought.
Halverson said that parts of central California are "literally shrinking" by two feet per year because they're pumping so much groundwater.
"If you look at how much of the California crops are being exported, you can draw the connection there," he said, adding that this is becoming a "national security-level problem."
Heather Childers weighed the other side with Jordan Rose, attorney for Saudi-based Fondomonte Farm.
Rose said the company is "following every single law" while drilling wells in Arizona and that the water table where the company is farming actually increased.
She said the reason is that Fondomonte began operating at an existing farm and implemented new conservation technology.
Rose criticized Halverson for making a "ludicrous, anti-free trade argument" on this issue.
"This is much to do about nothing," said Rose, adding that the company employs 190 people in Arizona and central California.
Watch the report above and the response from the company's attorney below.