Some Pinal County farmers facing stark choice as drought persists
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - More reports are trickling in on water shortages impacting Arizona farmers, with some crops in Pinal County among the hardest hit.
The situation is also likely to get worse when water restrictions take effect in early 2022.
Farmer speaks out
From high above, the alfalfa crop looks green and healthy, but get down a little closer, and the cracks start to show.
The Caywood Farm has been in the family for five generations, dating back to the 1930s. They have dealt with droughts before, but nothing like this drought, which las left parched fields with no crops, and canals filled with tumbleweeds instead of water.
"I looked in that canal and it was empty, and it just brought tears to my eyes," said Nancy Caywood.
Nancy was raised on this land. These days she is farming with less than a third of the water she needs.
Other farmers around the area are in the same boat.
"Our alfalfa is drying up. We cannot put cotton in the ground, which we traditionally grow," said Nancy.
Nancy's grandfather entered into an agreement decades ago that tied the farm's water use to its taxes. She says that drains $22,000 from their operation each year, whether they get the water or not.
"If we don't make a payment, we can lose our land," said Nancy.
Family warned of potential sale
Nancy says the monsoon made a dent in the drought, and that they are using methods to conserve every drop. They have also pivoted to agra-educational tours to bring in a few extra bucks, but before he died, Nancy's father warned her of what might be next.
"Before he left, he said, 'There's a chance it's not gonna go away, and you guys might have to consider selling it.' I'm glad he didn't have to see it," said Nancy.
Nancy says several farms in the area have already sold out and turned into solar farms.
While there may not be enough rain in the area, there is plenty of sun.
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