A Water Crisis Near The Border Is Hitting American Farmers Hard

(NationalUSNews.com) — The Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, located near the border in Santa Rosa, Texas, processed sugarcane into raw sugar and molasses for 51 years. They were a member-owned cooperative of over 126 growers, and they recently shut down their sugar mill for good, citing a lack of water. Farmers in the Rio Grande Valley depend on water that Mexico agreed to deliver in a 1944 treaty. However, due to adverse weather conditions causing there to be less water, Mexico has not been able to honor their obligations.

Under the treaty Mexico is required to give 350,000 acre-feet of water to the U.S. over a 5-year cycle, totaling 1.7 million acre-feet of water from Mexican tributaries in the Rio Grande Region. The U.S. is required to send Mexico 1.5-million-acre feet of water from the Colorado river each year. This agreement has been functioning well throughout the years under different conditions and different leadership. This year, farmers in Texas are being affected by the breakdown of the treaty, primarily caused by water shortages.

Brian Jones has been farming near the border for 40 years, but he says this year is the first that he has experienced having no irrigation water. Without that water, Jones was forced to leave half of his farm unplanted. Professor Luis Ribera at Texas A&M University believes the impact of the water deficit could cause losses of up to $500 million and affect around 8,500 agricultural jobs. He added that if the issue remains unresolved, it could affect the already soaring prices of groceries.

Maria-Elena Giner, the commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, says the situation is not looking good. Her team has been working to arrange a new agreement with Mexico to facilitate more reliable water deliveries, but negotiations have broken down more than once. Political tensions between the two nations, drought, and upcoming elections in both Mexico and the U.S. have complicated an already complex situation. Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are calling for the U.S. to withhold funds from Mexico until they meet their water deliveries. However, many in Mexico oppose additional water deliveries to the U.S.

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