Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Agriculture in Arizona
I am in the airport, on the way home from the the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher Annual Leadership Conference, which was held in Phoenix, AZ over the last three days. If you ever get the chance to attend this event, I cannot recommend it enough. I've been two years in a row, and it has been one of my all-time favorites each time.
We had roughly two and a half days of meetings, speakers, networking meals and the collegiate discussion meet to keep us occupied. There will be more coverage of that in the publications I write for, and hopefully on here as well in upcoming weeks.
On the last day, we toured local agriculture operations. On my tour we went to a dairy that has 28,000 animals, 8,000-9,000 of which are milking cows (the rest are the calves and yearlings that aren't milking age yet). We also went to the place that provides places like Hobby Lobby and Pottery Barn with much of their plant based home decor items, like wheat wreathes. Our last stop was a college ag research center, where we saw a cotton gin built in the 1930's process cotton. Very cool!
Here is a quick rundown of some other things I learned about agriculture production and issues in AZ:
- They get 8-10 cuttings of alfalfa a year! Their major markets are local dairies, like the one I visited.
- One man said if he pulls out of his field and gets mud on the highway, there is a first-time fine of $10,000, and after that it goes to $20,000 per fine.
- Dust regulation is also a big deal, and when the wind blows the sand around (it is a desert...) they call the farmers to let them know they're creating too much dust based on what their daily allotments are.
- It costs $50 per acre foot of water, if you have a water right. People either have water rights or don't, depending on whether they farmed during specific years in the 1970's, or not.
- The area around Phoenix gets 8 inches of moisture a year, in about two storms most of the time. If you raise a crop, you irrigate it.
- Irrigation water comes from captured snow pack runoff and from collecting water during the major storms bringing the land it's annual precipitation.
- The first single row cotton picker could pick 9,000 lbs. of cotton a day. The best human worker could pick between 400 and 450 lbs.
- If you see illegal aliens in southern Arizona, and they're in a row walking along, that's called a mule pack. If they have little backpacks, they're probably alright. But, if they have big backpacks, they're likely each full of 100 pounds of marijuana or cocaine, and there will be people at the front and back with machine guns that will kill you.
- Our local Arizonan on our tour bus said these illegals coming through have completely destroyed the landscape in very southern Arizona, littering it with trash and making ranching dangerous and nearly impossible.
- One major reason for not putting up a more permanent fence (our local said its old, three-wire barbwire with no border markings in most rural areas) between us and Mexico is because a few herds of antelope and elk travel back and forth, and the government doesn't want to eliminate their connectivity. This also results in cattle between the two countries mixing regularly.
- On nights will full moons, cattle pots of illegals will be dropped at the border, and walking across. Don't go hunting or cow gathering when there's a full moon.
- If you get caught in Mexico with a gun, it's so many years in prison for each bullet in your gun. And their prisons are known for their "great hospitality." Hello America....