Saudi Arabia using water from bone-dry California
A Saudi Arabian food conglomerate is using Californian land and water for free through a century-old legal loop-hole.
BLYTHE, CALIFORNIA — A Saudi Arabian food conglomerate is using Californian land and water for free through a century-old legal loop-hole, reports The Guardian.
Fondomonte Farms, a subsidiary from a Saudi Arabian food conglomerate called Almarai, owns 16 percent of the irrigated land in Blythe, California. They use this land to grow alfalfa which is then exported to Saudi Arabia as feed for the company's cows.
Blythe is an arid region in California, however, its land is irrigated by the lower Colorado River. This river is also the main water supply for nearly 40 million people. Currently, the river is drying up due to climate change.
According to The Guardian, Fondomonte Farms is using a loop-hole from a law dating back to the 1800s to benefit from the scarce water supply in the region for free. An 1877 water claim approved by the government allowed farmers and those living within the district to consume as much water as they needed for free due to the shortage of water in Blythe.
The Palo Verde Irrigation District cannot sell the water in the area, they can only charge farmers $77 per acre-foot to cover the water district's overhead.
Apart from owning land in California, Almarai also owns 10,000 acres of land in Arizona that it bought back in 2014 as well as 30,000 acres in Argentina acquired in 2012.
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