Arizona State University and University of Arizona

Initial findings from an Arizona State University (ASU) and University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension survey of central Arizona farmers suggest problems in water availability for agriculture will continue as a front-and-center issue.

More than 50 central Arizona growers, most from the Phoenix and Pinal active water management areas, expressed their water concerns in the ASU-UA survey called, “Perspectives of Central Arizona Farmers on Water, Risk, and Change in Agriculture.”

More than half of the survey respondents reported recent problems with water scarcity, primarily due to high water demand, drought, and infrastructure constraints.

About half of the growers believe future water availability will differ from past experiences and believe future water problems will emerge sooner rather than later.

Many growers said current water strategies and information sources are inadequate to deal with future water challenges. The respondents expressed high uncertainty about their ability to make long-term farming plans due to limited water supplies.

Most respondents expressed an interest in learning more about anticipated climatic and hydrological changes and the potential impact on agriculture in the region.

Despite the water concerns, producers’ desire to remain in agriculture remains high. Most respondents want to farm as long as possible. They consider agriculture a positive way of life.

The respondents expressed a commitment to help other producers in the region, and believe their future success depends on each other.

Respondents believe agriculture is not sufficiently appreciated by policy makers.

ASU and UA expressed thanks to the growers who participated in the survey.

The survey project is funded by the Sectoral Applications Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office, and the National Science Foundation under the award SES-0951366 Decision Center for a Desert City II: Urban Climate Adaption.

In the next few weeks, the full survey results will be posted online at http://azfarmersurvey.wordpress.com.