This page features photos of agriculture in Pinal County, Arizona.
Located in the central part of southern Arizona, Pinal County is one of the most agriculturally productive counties in the country, ranking in the top 2% of all U.S. counties in total volume of agricultural sales. The county ranks first in Arizona in the production of cotton, barley crops and livestock, and second for durum wheat and alfalfa hay production.
Pinal County’s agricultural productivity is due in large part to its water access, which is supplied by the Central Arizona Project (CAP). The 336-mile diversion canal brings water from the Colorado River to central Arizona, where it supplies irrigation water for agricultural use. In Arizona, the highest priority of water rights belongs to tribes, municipal and industrial users, meaning that farmers lose their access to Colorado River water first during periods of severe drought.
On August 16, 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation declared a “Tier 1 shortage,” meaning that roughly one-third of the Colorado River water normally allocated to Arizona wouldn’t be available. This was the first and only time that the Bureau of Reclamation has declared a Tier 1 shortage, which the University of Arizona estimates could cost Pinal County up to $66 million in crop revenue.
Ian James and Geoff Hing, “Investors are buying up rural Arizona farmland to sell the water to urban homebuilders,” Arizona Republic, November 25, 2021.
“When it comes to long term water security, commercial real estate developers say they’re part of the solution,” Chamber Business News, November 15, 2021.
Brad Poole, “Colorado River shortage to hit Central Arizona farmers hardest,” Courthouse News Service, August 7, 2021.
|Location||Pinal County, Arizona (map)|
|Credit||Ted Wood/The Water Desk|
|Rights||Free to reuse under Creative Commons license.|
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