Large corporate style farms that primarily grow food for animals are banned in Saudi Arabia because of the amount of water they consume in this region of the world where water is scarce.
That’s why a Saudi company, Fondomonte, leased thousands of state-owned desert land outside of Phoenix, AZ and strong-armed regulators to allow them to secretly pump as much water as they wanted from reservoirs deep underground with no accountability as to how much they took. Republican state and local officials are against water metering, believing that water underground belongs to those who control the surface.
The harvest from this land - mostly alfalfa - is then shipped back to Saudi Arabia to feed their farmers' own dairy cows where 100% of its animal feed is imported.
As Arizona begins to run out of water, the new Democratic Governor, Katie Hobbs has said she will not renew Fondomonte’s lease, setting up an epic battle between water rights advocates and those who have benefited from the company’s largess, which some call bribes.
Meanwhile, many of the 225 Spanish speaking employees at the farm work 10 hour shifts, 6 days a week with no overtime pay, and live in a trailer park situated along a dirt road where they often have to buy their own water for drinking and bathing because of shortages.