American farmers suffer as water crisis escalates near the border

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American farmers are suffering, and some say it’s because Mexico isn’t living up to its end of a bargain. It isn’t cash the farmers need, it’s water. 

“This is the first year that I have zero irrigation water,” said Brian Jones, who has been farming near the border for almost 40 years. He’s seeing a huge drop in crops because of the lack of irrigation water.

Under a treaty from back in the 1940s, Mexico agreed to give a certain amount of water to the Lower Rio Grande region. Farmers in the area say the Mexican government is running behind on its obligations.

“I’ve got only half my farm planted. And the other half is sitting idle right now, because we don’t have the water to take care of the crops,” Jones said.  Luis Ribera, a professor and extension economist for Texas A&M helped create a report of the potential loss for the US if there continued to be no irrigation water in the region.


Potential economic impact of delay in irrigation water

 Economic impact of lack of irrigation water from Mexico into the US (Olivianna Calmes)

“Just the direct impact for producers is going to be close to $500 million….and over 8,500 jobs depend on on agriculture production and in distribution and everything. So we’re talking about big numbers,” Ribera said. Jones said the sugar mill just down the road from him was the only one in the state. It shut down this year because it didn’t have enough water for production. 

Jones said it was sobering to see the mill shut down and a reminder for his own farm.


Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers shuts down

Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers shuts down  (Olivianna Calmes)

“We’re praying that Mexico starts doing what they’re supposed to do what they said they would do,” Jones said. 

TX farmer shares about how lack of water affects his crops

With not enough water, farmer Brian Jones says he has much less crop than he should have. (Olivianna Calmes)

Professor Ribera says if this doesn’t get resolved, it could eventually start to drive up the price of groceries. 

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