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California nut farms move to Arizona raises water concerns
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KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — A farm operation that is moving from California to Arizona to raise almonds and other nuts has raised concern about whether it will deplete water supplies in Mohave County.

Quality Nut Co. owner Bruce Beard said the 6,000-acre organic farm won’t be planted all at once.

“We plan to plant 500 acres and start slowly,” said Beard.

Beard said the Arizona Division of Water Resources studied the area’s groundwater supply, and Kingman is in good shape.

“We understand water is a concern,” Beard said. “We won’t be wasteful and we’re organic. Organic is big. This soil has not been farmed before and the market is growing toward organic.”

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson said the fully planted farm will use nearly 8 billion gallons of water annually.

He said several companies are choosing Arizona as a logical place to move amid drought-related water restrictions in California and other parts of the world.

“The recent loss of water rights on the Big Sandy, coupled with the increased farming activity in the Hualapai Valley and Sacramento basins near Kingman, brings concerns to the longevity of adequate water supplies for Mohave County,” said Johnson.

Local officials have no control over who can clear vegetation, plant crops and dig wells.

“They didn’t have to come through the supervisors,” Johnson said. “It’s agriculture. They don’t have to talk to us.”

Beard said the farm employs five Kingman residents full-time. More hires are expected, including many temporary seasonal workers for planting and harvesting.