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As a small business owner in rural Arizona for over 25 years and the grandson of a Western Wyoming rancher, I am very cognitive of the challenges facing Arizona's agriculture industry.  Four of Arizona's historic Five Cs are agriculture related and include: cattle, cotton, citrus and climate.  Ranchers and farmers manage more than 26 million acres of land in Arizona.  Nearly 900,000 head of cattle are raised on approximately 4,000 Arizona ranches each year.  While not quite as large as it once was, cattle ranching still provides a significant amount of revenue for our state.  Annually, the Arizona beef industry contributes over $430 million to Arizona's GDP and every 100 workers hired by the beef industry create 62 additional jobs in other industries in Arizona.

In addition to beef, cotton has an extensive history in Arizona and at one time, nearly 800,000 acres of cotton was produced in Arizona annually.  While only about 200,000 acres of cotton are currently grown in Arizona fields each year, yields per acre have increased significantly.  Pinal County and Maricopa County lead the way and produce significant amounts of cotton for our state.  In 2023, more than 249,000 bales of cotton were produced, generating millions for Arizona's economy.

Citrus groves in Yuma, Maricopa, Pinal and Mohave counties produce a significant amount of commercial crops which include lemons, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. Today, Arizona is second only to California in lemon production and is one of only four states that produce citrus.  95% of our country's lemons come from Arizona and California. Yuma County produces the most citrus in Arizona.  Arizona is the fourth largest producer of both oranges and grapefruit in the country.  I am also incredibly proud that Yuma County is the winter lettuce capitol of the world.  We grow 90 percent of the salad greens eaten in the United States during the winter months.  Many people even refer to Yuma as the nation’s salad bowl.  

The biggest issue facing agriculture is water.  For those of us in the West, state water laws and the rights they protect are paramount to our economy, our environment and our way of life.  Westerners suffer from drought on a constant basis, which is why we invested in water storage and delivery projects that supply water and hydropower in dry times.  Attempted water grabs by federal agencies have been atrocious. Whether it is Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), the Ground Water Service Directive, or the ski area water rights permitting conditions, the federal government has attempted an all-out assault to take control of precious water resources that have traditionally been managed by states or private ownership.  To combat this, I have introduced and supported a number of legislative efforts aimed at protecting agriculture and our vital water supplies.

Another significant problem facing our agricultural community is that we lack sufficient domestic agricultural workers to meet the needs of our farmers, especially during the busy seasons.  Unfortunately, the current guest-worker program is broken and in need of significant reform. As long as these programs are viable, are constructed in such a way that they do not take jobs away from American citizens and don’t incentivize further illegal immigration, they can be a valuable tool for economic development and agriculture.

Farming and ranching are vital to jobs, economic stimulus and Arizona’s way of life.  I have always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of agriculture.