This summer, Arizona Farm Bureau gathered comments from candidates in key primary races through its 2018 Primary Election Candidate Questionnaire. The agriculture-focused questions were designed to give members an overview of the agriculture-related positions held by primary candidates in competitive races. Specifically, candidates were asked:

  1. Arizona’s agriculture and natural resource industries are important economic engines for Arizona and our rural communities. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing these industries?
  2. What role should the [office for which you are running] play in overcoming this challenge?


Arizona Farm Bureau Director of Government Relations Chelsea McGuire noted, “Election season is a time when our members are bombarded with messages about dozens of issues. Arizona Farm Bureau hopes to cut through some of the noise by providing a clear and concise message from candidates in key races across the State.”


Important Points to Remember

Candidates questioned were those facing same-party competition in key primary races.

All responses are published below in alphabetical order by party.

Candidates that did not respond are not listed.


Editor’s Note:  In the October issue of Arizona Agriculture, Farm Bureau will focus on the candidates in the General Election and the races of particular importance to agriculture.



Martha McSally (R)

There are many challenges facing our agriculture and natural resources industries and Arizona, but the biggest one is the burdensome and overreaching regulatory atmosphere imposed by the Federal government.


From H-2A visas, pesticide and insecticide repellents, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, and land use hoops, Arizona’s farmers and ranchers are expected to comply with an extremely complicated web of rules and regulations. These requirements mean that Arizona's producers spend too much time and money complying and too little time doing what they do best.


As a Member of Congress who represents many farmers and ranchers, I have heard firsthand testimony about the challenges and costs to the economy of federal regulations. I have a proven record of fighting for our producers and stakeholders, and if elected to the U.S. Senate I will continue leading our state delegation in opposing burdensome red-tape and regulations and fostering a business-friendly climate.


Recently, I advocated and voted in favor of the Farm Bill that allows certain environmental reviews and red tape that are not applicable to be waived which saves precious time and resources for America’s producers. I have also voiced my opposition to rules and regulations such as the WOTUS rule. I voted to repeal it and continue to support this Administration’s efforts to roll back sweeping regulations written by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.


Beyond simply opposing harmful policies, we also need to foster a business-friendly climate. That’s why I supported the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which lowers taxes and provides relief from the “death tax” so that farmers, ranchers, and business owners can pass down their business to the next generation.


Dr. Kelli Ward (R)

Agriculture in Arizona succeeds in generating over $13 billion in economic activity despite constant threats – many from nature, and some from the government. Trade, tax reform, access to water, food safety, and many more federal issues can have a serious impact on our farmers and ranchers.


Exports are critical to the success of Arizona’s farms and ranches, and it is vital that we maintain and expand access to vital export markets for Arizona agriculture. Whether it’s winter lettuce, beef, apples, pecans, or any other product we produce in Arizona, I want our farmers and ranchers to have the ability to sell around the world.  This means we need to preserve access to existing markets and negotiate for the reduction of barriers to American ag products in those countries where they remain. Expanding access to export markets must be a key part of any trade agreement. As a United States Senator, expanding market access for agriculture will be a key component I look for in any treaty that comes before the Senate.


Kyrsten Sinema (D)

As I travel the state, I hear many of the same concerns from Arizona families. No matter how Arizonans make their living, everyone wants access to quality health care, good jobs, and a fair shot at success.


When I talk to Arizona farmers, I hear about these same concerns and also about how we can ensure continued access to markets across the world. The chaos and dysfunction of Washington is causing uncertainty for farmers and rural economies across the state.


No one wins a trade war. Arizona family farmers depend on commonsense trade policies that provide certainty, protect jobs, and strengthen rural communities. That’s why I’m working across the aisle to support the Trade Authority Protection Act, which requires Congressional approval before new tariffs or trade policies go into effect, so we ensure they work for Arizona. The last thing we need are tariffs that hurt our farmers, or policies that spur our trading partners to retaliate and harm hardworking Arizonans.


Any trade plan we put forward needs to help everyday Arizonans get ahead. I’ll work with people on both sides of the aisle to cut through the partisan games and get things done for Arizona.





Congressional District 1 – Casa Grande, Show Low, Flagstaff, Kayenta

Wendy Rogers (R)

Arizona’s congressional delegation must work to put an end to the adjudication process and federally reserved water rights.  


Watersheds are an absolute mess as logging has ceased, small dog-hair pine thickets have taken over, and the Forest Service has adopted a “let it burn” attitude.  Watersheds have been “managed” not by land stewards, but by judges in cases brought by the environmental community whose goal is to drive out all natural resource users.


Water sheds are vital to agriculture and urban areas of the state.  Decades ago, the feds introduced the saltcedar tamarisk as an erosion control method.  The saltcedar, however, has choked and infested water sheds throughout the state. The feds should be required to clean up the mess they created.  


When forest reserves were created under the Organic Act, the two original purposes were silviculture and watershed management.  Now both are ignored and have been replaced by recreation and wildlife concerns.


A concerted effort to revitalize water sheds should be a critical focal point of Arizona’s congressional delegation.  While the delegation cannot end the drought, it can push to restore watersheds, resulting in more water available for both agriculture and urban areas.


Tiffany Shedd (R)

The biggest challenge is federal overreach.   We have many regulations that cause problems and don’t solve them such as Waters of the US; many interpretations of the endangered species act; federal water, energy, and land use policy that does not allow stewardship by local stakeholders; as well as labor policies that leave industries shorthanded.


Arizona’s Congressional delegation needs to fully understand and educate other policymakers about the impact regulations are having on our unique western state and its producers.  They need to protect and defend our state and its producers against policies that cripple rural Arizona whether that is through legislation, advocacy, coalition building, correcting agencies that have overstepped their bounds, or using the office as a podium to shine national attention on our amazing industries and their side of the story.  


Congressional District 2 – Benson, Willcox, Sierra Vista, Douglas

Brandon Martin (R)

Constant government overreach from the federal level is the biggest issue facing Arizona's agriculture. We in Arizona are capable of managing our own land and natural resources. Arizona's congressional delegation should work to return federally controlled lands in Arizona back to the state.


Casey Welch (R)

With the rapid development of urbanization in the State, both Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries would foresee a water crisis. I believe our water resources are threatened, and we need to expand our conservation programs and increase efforts to reinforce our water supplies. The economic, social and environmental sustainability of Arizona State depends on water availability and accessibility. The State needs to augment support for sustainable water resources programs that don’t lean in favor of urban or rural areas but work together to create a feasible solution for all.


With the rapid development of urbanization in the State, both Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries would foresee a water crisis. I believe our water resources are threatened, and we need to expand our conservation programs and increase efforts to reinforce our water supplies. The economic, social and environmental sustainability of Arizona State depends on water availability and accessibility. The State needs to augment support for sustainable water resources programs that don’t lean in favor of urban or rural areas but work together to create a feasible solution for all.


Matt Heinz (D)

The biggest challenges currently facing our agriculture and natural resource industries are the corporatization of these industries as well as the complications that arise from our currently chaotic trade policy. Small farms, which had been for decades the backbone of our agricultural industry, are being bought out and rolled over by the desire for corporate profits and influence. With that comes a loss of a way of life and the threat of stagnation in terms of agricultural development.


Our current trade conflicts run the risk of damaging our relationships with key partners and allies and will ultimately hurt the pocketbooks of tens of thousands of individuals working in agriculture-related fields. Small farms are paying the price for this posturing and it is deeply concerning.


The Arizona congressional delegation should play an active role both in terms of trade policy and oversight for our agriculture industry. Members of the delegation should be consistent advocates for our economy by working with federal and local departments to ensure that the needs of the industry are well represented. I also strongly believe that expanding and improving access to broadband is critically important overall, but especially for our rural farming communities.


Ann Kirkpatrick (D)

Arizona’s agriculture and natural resource industries have a major challenge in finding a reliable, legal workforce to make up for a shortage of labor in certain regions of our state. The demand for farmworkers in Arizona has been steadily growing for years. No farmer should ever have to look into their fields and watch their crop rot because people are unavailable to harvest it. That is why I am an advocate for guest labor reform that is sufficient and productive for the entire Arizona agricultural community resulting in a steady and reliable flow of workers.


Guest labor reform has not been addressed by our federal government in more than a decade and is vital to farming operations, especially on farms in Arizona’s second congressional district. Since my first term in office, I have consistently joined with Arizona’s business owners, farmers, ranchers and so many others in supporting comprehensive immigration reform that secures our border, keeps families together but also addresses the labor workforce needs of Arizona’s agricultural economy. Specifically, guest labor programs need reformed to increase a sufficient and reliable flow of workers, as well as be developed with input from business owners, farmers, ranchers and farm workers. Additionally, Arizona’s congressional delegation needs to put politics aside and work together to significantly increase opportunities for our state's farmers. We need to elect principled leaders who have the ability to break the gridlock in Washington and find common ground to pass real solutions that create jobs and boost our economy.


Barbara Sherry (D)

As the population grows, the demand for water raises exponentially, while the supply decreases with environmental changes, this issue will be the number one facing our Farmers and Ranchers.


Arizona’s congressional delegation should promote education about water-saving methods like hydroponics and drip irrigation, then subsidize and create incentives for industries to use these methods. One pound of hydroponic barley grass uses one-tenth the amount of water that it takes to grow an equal amount of hay. Drip irrigation can use less water than traditional irrigation. Methods for saving water are well-understood, but those in rural communities may not have the knowledge or the resources to implement them. Eighty-five percent of rancher in Cochise County make $25,000 or less, and without assistance cannot implement an expensive method such as drip irrigation or hydroponics. Another thing that Arizonans can do is decrease the production of pecans in southern AZ. A pecan tree can live for 100 years, but it takes seven years to produce one pecan. It’s the responsibility of Arizona’s congressional delegation to work with these industries to save water for the sake of the working people and for the land itself.  These industries cannot survive without drastic measure to conserve water.


Congressional District 9 – Tempe, Mesa, Arcadia

Dr. Steve Ferrara (R)

Our dysfunctional immigration system is taking its toll on the nation in many regards, but here in Arizona it’s also adversely affecting our agriculture industry. Thanks to our recent economic renaissance, our economy has created more jobs than there are workers to fill them based on both numbers and skill sets. This magnifies the long overdue need for holistic immigration reform that provides border security yet supports our economy. This is a problem that must be addressed by Congress, and since Arizona has such a uniquely vital interest in this policy our delegation should lead the way. We must expand the visa limits while streamlining and simplifying the H-2A program for agricultural foreign workers. A successful plan will be sensitive to the seasonal and geographically varied nature of agriculture work. Arizona’s agribusiness industry provides over $23 billion in economic impact to the state and supports roughly 140,000 jobs in mostly family-owned enterprises. As a doctor, I understand the bigger picture: these growers provide Americans with healthy foods at affordable prices. It’s crucial that Arizona’s congressional delegation ensures that these job, health, and wealth creators have an efficient and reliable source of labor so that they can continue to thrive.


Greg Stanton (D)

As the Mayor or Arizona’s largest city I learned that when our rural communities flourish so do our urban communities and vice versa.  Therefore, while Congressional District 9 is completely urban, the health of our rural communities and the continued growth of the economic activities that drive them is a vital concern to me. In my view, the biggest long-term challenge that our agricultural and natural resources industries face is one that we all share, and that is long-term water security.  Over the past decade we have made great strides in building effective and innovative water storage and management strategies and, once in Congress, I look forward to continuing to work with these vital Arizona industries and our rural communities to ensure no one is left out of these discussions. 

I support the drought contingency plan and process in which all of Arizona's key interests, both urban and rural are adequately addressed. Arizona has had great leaders in Congress to advocate for our interests during difficult water negotiations and I look forward to continuing that essential, bipartisan tradition. It's critical that the outstanding, long-term water planning that's been done in Arizona is protected in any future multi-state discussions. 




Doug Ducey (R)

The challenge continues to be the overreach and difficulties created by government. My Administration has reduced regulatory burdens and invited natural resource industries to help Arizona improve business. My job as Governor is to work with the industry, and my staff, so that we have sound policy that serves businesses and the public in our state and the nation.  


Our efforts have included or resulted in:

  • Convening face-to-face meetings with agriculture leaders and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to improve federal agriculture policy and border issues;
  • A successful challenge with other states on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and a coordinated effort with industry and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to lead in redefining WOTUS with the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • A successful challenge with other states on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 108(b) Rule that would have devastated the mining industry; 
  • Working with the agriculture industry on legislation and rules required to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in Arizona through the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) - and not the federal government; 
  • Eliminating 121 unnecessary regulations at the ADA;
  • And moving numerous ADA processes and services online.


Steve Farley (D)

The biggest issue facing Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries today is water issues, especially due to climate change.  Water affects everyone in Arizona and virtually every industry.


Since Arizona’s statehood, pumping and diversions have severely and negatively affected major groundwater basins and seriously degraded five of Arizona’s major perennial rivers: the Colorado, Gila, Salt, Santa Cruz, and much of the San Pedro.


Additionally, future perennial flow in the upper Verde River is deeply threatened. Researchers[i] predict that in 2050 groundwater demand in seven river basins will exceed base flow, thus endangering the Agua Fria, Babocomari, San Pedro, upper Verde, and Little Colorado Rivers. One indicator of the declining health of Arizona’s rivers and streams is the status of native fish populations.


Reduced river flows and deterioration of riparian habitats have detrimental effects on hunting, fishing, boating, birding, and other water-based recreational activities that significantly contribute to Arizona tourism – a growing $20.9 billion industry bringing revenue from outside Arizona.


Arizona’s Governor should play a very active role in preserving our state’s water and natural resources and curbing the effects of climate change. 


To prepare for the future, as governor, I will serve as a convener of the best and brightest minds to fix the issue at hand.  I plan to follow the example of Bruce Babbitt as he developed the Groundwater Management Act of 1980 by bringing all the stakeholders together in public forums and making sure everyone is at the table, not just people handpicked for a pre-determined outcome.  


This way, the public respects and follows the legislation that results, and we can move forward together.





Legislative District 6 – Flagstaff, Payson, Snowflake

Bob Thorpe (R)

Thank you! I am so proud of our hard-working citizens on Arizona’s 15,000 farms and ranches, contributing over $10 billion annually to our growing economy, feeding and clothing our citizens here, across our nation and around the world. This year, I was honored to run a bill and include in the State budget the long overdue livestock inspector’s pay raise, to better compensate and thus help recruit and retain these important public servants.

One of the biggest challenges facing agricultural will continue to be available water resources within our arid state. Any changes to water policy must originate and be agreed upon by our AG stakeholders, and not be imposed by bureaucrats, the Governor’s office or within the halls of the State Legislature.


Legislative District 5 – Mohave Valley, La Paz Valley

Jennifer Jones-Esposito (R)

Water in the desert is the most important issue and the biggest challenge facing farmers and ranchers in rural Arizona. Only 18.2% of land is privately held, with only another 12.7% being State Trust land. The remainder is federally controlled and there is nothing preventing the BLM or other federal agency from preventing access to water, or leasing land to commercial enterprise which might deplete available ground water. Arizona legislators must demand control of our public lands per the American Lands Council and work with Coalition of Western States as a united front to to boot the feds off our land. Representative Brenda Barton's bill to do this was vetoed by Governor Ducey. The legislature needs a supermajority of like-minded conservatives to override a veto. Ducey's Primary challenger Ken Bennett strongly supports Arizona controlling it's public land, and I look forward to the prospect of working with him on this and other issues.


Leo Biasiucci (R)

I think the biggest challenge facing Arizona's agricultural and natural resource industries are regulations. It is important that we allow these industries to thrive. When overregulation exists, these industries suffer, and in turn the Arizona economy suffers. These industries, and many others, do a great job of regulating themselves. We still need to make sure we have some oversight, but as Legislators, we need to do what we can to remove the unnecessary regulations that are negatively impacting our industry. 


Paul Mosley (R)

I was just in a meeting in Kingman, Arizona for over five hours about the challenges that our state faces when it comes to water. As a legislator I will always defend the right of the farmers and ranchers. I have always and will always support legislation that helps ranchers and farmers especially when it come to water. My first priority will be farmers and ranchers.


Agriculture is the life blood of our society, the number one export and 20% of the GDP. Farmers & Ranchers are good stewards of the land and I will work hard to support and help the ranchers and farmers of Arizona to provide food for all Americans. We need to teach the rising generation the importance of agriculture. Everything that we have either comes from mining or farming.


Legislative District 11 – Maricopa, Stanfield, Marana

Howell “Jonesy” Jones (R)

Thank you for the opportunity to submit a few words on issues that might concern you and federation members.  From talking to people in the district I have found water to be one of the issues everyone has a stake in.  I am not a politician and have never held office before, I don’t have a lot of the facts on issues including water. I believe most laws, policy’s, etc. should be looked at every few years epically water issues, to determine need and update as needed.  What I have seen in other states is farm and ranch land being bought up by developers.  We can never let Arizona lose it’s farm and ranch reputation.  I look forward to speaking with people in your industry for find out any and all issues the state might be able to help them with.


Mark Finchem (R)

Thank you for writing and for your timely questions. As a consistent supporter of the agricultural agenda in Arizona, my voting record over the last 4 years points to my recognition that we have big problems that will require innovative solutions, while keeping government small so the people can remain big.


With regard to your question, “In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing these industries?” I agree that Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries are important economic engines for Arizona and our rural communities. Of course without water, there is no agriculture. As a policy setting body, it is up to the Legislature to set water policy that balances the needs of our urban and suburban communities with the ability to feed the people who live within them.


What to do about the problem, or in your words, “What role should the Arizona’s Legislature play in overcoming this challenge?” I believe we must settle the long standing disputes over water, and seek meaningful, productive, infrastructure improvements that will increase both supply and capacity to deliver water to central and southern Arizona. One example is the employment of treatment technologies -desalinization for one- of brackish water in multiple locations around our state. Another opportunity is one that the Israeli government has already solved, and that is increased supply of water through oceanic desalination. We are now in a “new normal,” and the natural forces that we have relied upon in the past have changed. With the abundance of electric power brought on by the proliferation of “green” technologies, we have the opportunity to adopt an “all of the above” water strategy, that will supply the needs of agriculture and of urban and suburban communities. To accomplish that, we need a smart plan that our sister states and the Federal partners can work from. I believe that is the role that the Arizona Legislature should lead in.


I would be happy to talk more about an “all of the above” water supply strategy with you and the Farm

Bureau members at your convenience.


Barry McCain (D)

Hi. I am Barry McCain a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives from Legislative District 11. The Arizona Natural Resources that are Arizona’s biggest challenges, in my opinion are: 1. Our People 2. Water 3. Mining Metals 4. Timber 5. Land Management and 6. National Parks. The Arizona Legislature must work together to overcome all challenges and to pass unpartisan Legislation for the common good to protect each Natural Resource for each to be sustainable for posterity. To get the Arizona Legislature to work together for the common good of our great state is the biggest challenge as seen in our Arizona history. For too long we have had a land of US versus Them and I am of the mindset that we are all one that have a common goal to build for our youth and our future. We must elect people who understand that it is not about politics and understand that the common good and fairness is a must. I believe we can do it if we all just take the time to listen and learn from each other. I need your help and your vote to bring about a new direction for our district.


Hollace “Holly” Lyon (D)

Rapid growth and development continue to cause competition for land and water use.  According to the 2006 88th AZ Town Hall report, “Current levels of air and water pollution, inadequate water supplies in some areas, and the loss of natural habitats, biodiversity and agricultural lands raise concerns that Arizona may have exceeded its carrying capacity in these areas.”  


Twelve years later, our population is up 18 percent and we are still rapidly developing. 


My tendency is to minimize Legislative involvement as much as possible, while creating the framework and incentives, that allow localities and counties to collaborate and self-regulate their planning and execution.  Where needed, the Legislature should create or strengthen mechanisms for Arizona to be fully engaged and active with the Western States Water Council and other regional planning cooperatives.  All stakeholders must have a seat at the table and Arizona must speak with one voice in the region.


Legislative District 12 – Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan

Travis Grantham (R)

In my opinion the biggest challenge facing Arizona’s agriculture and resource industries is over-regulation and bureaucratic rulemaking that makes it difficult and costly for them to do their jobs. As we all know, Arizona is mostly made up of federal and state land that is controlled by the government. Farmers, ranchers, foresters and all natural resource-related industries need affordable access to the states vast natural resources so that they can be responsibly and efficiently developed. Overprotection of our forests and rangelands has led to catastrophic fires which has destroyed many of the resources and consumed much of the groundwater. Arizona must take an active role in managing these lands and demand that the federal government streamline processes and open more acreage up to our agriculture and resource industries so that the lands can be properly utilized.


The Arizona legislature should strive to expedite approval processes on state land and ensure that the regulatory environment in Arizona is one that is conducive to doing business. By eliminating burdensome environmental law, easing access to resources and by ensuring there is ample water available to the agriculture and natural resource industry the Arizona legislature can create an environment that allows the industry to flourish. Additionally, keeping taxes low on businesses and in our rural areas will help to incentivize more development in the agriculture and natural resource industry creating more jobs and allowing for better management of our lands.


Blake Sacha (R)

There are many challenges facing these important economic engines including trade, labor resources, water and growth.  I believe that responsibly and effectively dealing with growth is the biggest issue.  Growth creates pressure on water, trade, labor availability, infrastructure investment, use of public lands and many other important issues.


The Arizona legislature has an important role to play in enabling responsible and effective growth.  Stopping the sweep of user funds, especially highway user funds are an important action.  Adequately maintained roads and highways are critical to efficient commerce.  Agreeing on a drought contingency plan and providing additional certainty regarding water usage will also be very important.  Trade is critical to our economy and our state must continue to play an influential role in updating trade agreements to reflect our unique needs.  Immigration policy needs to be addressed at the federal level and Arizona needs to be a strong partner.  The legislature also needs to keep Arizona government limited, so Arizona remains a place of opportunity for those reaching for the American dream.  The various divisions of government (city, county, state) have areas of responsibility.  They each need to stay in their lane and effectively and efficiently get their work done.


Warren Petersen (R)

I believe the biggest challenge facing the agricultural and natural resources industry is an environment of excessive red tape and regulation.  Many people have lost sight that government’s role is to protect our rights.  That includes the right to run our businesses without excessive government over reach.   A desire to push back on burdensome regulations is one of the biggest reasons I ran for office.    I understand that everything we eat, wear and use comes from materials that were grown or mined.  Food comes from farmers, not Fry’s! 


Unfortunately, we have radicals at the Capitol that believe that we need to regulate the agricultural community out of business.  While some may be well intentioned, they don’t realize they are literally biting the hand that feeds them.  I have the greatest respect for my friends who are farmers.  I see them as representing everything that is great about our country.  They are hard-working God-fearing people who love this state and contribute tremendously to the community.  The legislature needs to have a spirit of gratitude and respect towards the agricultural community not just in word, but in deed.  That means running bills that keep government out of the way, so farmers can provide us with the products we all need. 


Legislative District 13 – Buckeye, Tonopah, Wellton, Yuma

Joanne Osborne (R)

I believe the biggest challenge facing Arizona’s Agriculture and Natural Resource industries first and foremost, is water. Our state has been in an 18-year drought and a Shortage Declaration on Lake Mead is anticipated in the near future. The district I would like to represent, LD13, encompasses the heart of Yuma Agriculture. I have been on the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association for the past two years and understand the tough decisions that need to be made. The second item affecting agriculture is media and the harmful messaging being spread. While governments role is to keep its citizens safe, there tends to be a great deal of information that is contrary to the facts. As examples, GMO’s, animal production, food safety, and the like.


The role of an Arizona Legislator in this next year will need to find solution to the Drought Contingency Plan, the Sunset of Effluent Water Storage, and work collaboratively with the cities & media to show the Nation we are efficient, we are innovative, and we conserve water.




Legislative District 6 – Flagstaff, Payson, Snowflake

Sylvia Allen (R)

The biggest challenge facing the agriculture community is the potential for cities and the State to amend the Groundwater Management Act to take rural Arizona’s, and specifically, the agriculture community’s water. I am especially concerned that farmers in Pinal County, Yuma County, and other rural counties could be negatively impacted by state efforts to avoid a shortage on the Colorado River.


I am also concerned that federal agencies will continue to use their regulatory power to threaten the agriculture community. Even with a pro-business administration, agency administrators need to be watched carefully, and we should work to ensure that the current administration remains in office to avoid future harmful regulations.


The Legislature needs to assert its role in water policy and ensure that state agencies are working with, rather than against rural Arizona and the agriculture industry.


Legislative District 12 – Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan

Eddie Farnsworth (R)

Having been raised by a farmer and while growing up spending many hours working on the farm, I understand the importance of agriculture and the many challenges that agriculture faces. With that said, I believe the biggest issue facing agriculture is water.


Arizona’s drought has lasted for nearly two decades and has resulted in a marked reduction in water reserves available to Arizona. It is estimated that the record-low snowpack levels in the Colorado River Basin will result in only a 42 percent of the long-term average runoff into Lake Powell. Looming on the horizon is a federal shortage call on the Colorado River which would further restrict surface water available to Arizona agriculture that relies upon Colorado River allocations. This type of shortage declaration is unprecedented and would have a significant, if not devastating, impact on Arizona agriculture.


The Arizona Legislature must consider all options in confronting the imminent water crisis and be prepared to deal with a shortage call.


First, Arizona must adopt water conservation measures that will address the priorities of water usage if a shortage call is issued. The water conservation plan should include a change that removes Arizona agriculture as the first industry to receive water reductions. We all like to eat and it takes a lot of water to bring agricultural products to market. We must make agricultural access to water a top priority. Non-essential urban water use, such as watering lawns, should be prioritized at the bottom of the use list.


Second, Arizona should reduce the need for water by proper forest management. Arizona must pressure the feds to thin overgrown forests and reduce wildfires.


Third, Arizona should continue to explore alternative sources of fresh water. Though Desalination faces some hurdles, it could provide a means to desalinate Arizona’s significant brackish aquifer reserves.


Finally, Arizona must work in cooperation with the other Colorado River Basin states in coming to a solution that is a win-win.


Legislative District 13 – Buckeye, Tonopah, Wellton, Yuma

Brent Backus (R)

The biggest challenge? WATER.


AZ legislature needs to work with the Federal Government and the western States to seek inter water basin transfers to feed to CO river system.


Sine Kerr (R)

I believe the greatest challenge facing agriculture and our natural resources industries is water.  Access to a dependable supply of water needed for our farms, ranches, mining, and other natural resources industries is absolutely critical to their ability to stay in business and remain viable and sustainable.  Our rural communities benefit from a thriving agriculture and natural resources industry due to the many support businesses that are dependent upon those industries for economic success.


The role the legislature can play in overcoming this challenge is to understand the priority we need to give to our various water concerns and issues across the state.  Water legislation takes time and must be carefully crafted so that no harm is done to one region while trying to resolve an issue in another area of the state.


It’s vital that stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in the legislative process.  This allows transparency, accountability, and industry connection for the best chance of successful water policy.


Legislative District 14 – Safford, Willcox, Sierra Vista

David Gowan (R)

The biggest challenge is the future of Arizona’s water supply, which is the greatest natural resource asset needed to promote and grow Arizona’s $23 billion agricultural industry. With Lake Mead below the 150 ft. mark leaving us dangerously close to a level that can trigger federally mandatory cut backs of our share of the Colorado River supply that feeds our major population areas of the State, Arizona would be the first to loose out. This can have drastic affects on our farmers, ranchers, and rural regions, as the search for more water in our State can substantially impact them, which produce our food. The Legislature can do something and must do something to always protect our water rights. It will take leadership and tenacity to fight back for those water rights. Just as I did as your State Representative in 2015 when I fought and won legislation that created the first public College of Veterinarian Medicine in our State at the University of Arizona to help the needs of our rural and agriculture communities; I promise, as your Senator in LD14, I will be that fighter, who will protect our rural water supplies with all my strength and power.


Drew John (R)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak of my passion for the agribusiness industry and quality of life.  I do miss living the life of farming and ranching, but I do have the opportunity to help others have that quality of life to prosper and enjoy.

Property rights seem to always be the overall threat to farming and ranching across the country.  Here in AZ our biggest threats currently are water rights and the negative effects of illegal immigration on our ranches in my Legislative District in Southeastern AZ.


Legislatively and personally we need to support our President on immigration reform and border security.  Our state must take back the control of water within our state and develop our own legislation and policies to preserve and protect the individual property rights. 


Our state needs to develop our own programs within our existing departments to manage our own endangered species, environmental protections and develop a proper business plan to take back our federal lands.




Rodney Glassman (R)

Water is the biggest issue facing our state and the Corporation Commission, which regulates Arizona’s private water providers, will play a critical role in Arizona’s water future. As a former Arizona State Farm Bureau board member, member of a three-generation farming family in Central California, and Air Force Veteran with my PhD in Arid Land Resource Sciences (water) from the University of Arizona, I’m uniquely qualified to serve as a voice for agriculture on the Commission.


I grew up in production agriculture and know that for many parts of our state, agriculture is the basis for the local community. I understand, first-hand, the relationship between agriculture, economic development, conservation and the entities supplying power and water.  Most folks have only a drive-by sense of how agriculture impacts the creation of capital. 


Agriculture needs affordable and reliable water and power and that requires regulators who are informed, impartial, and forward-looking.  I’m the only candidate with a plan to restore integrity at the Commission through adoption of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct. I’ve also made long-term planning, with an emphasis on water, the central element of my campaign. Everyone talks about it, and I’ve got the know-how to get it done.


Bill Mundell (D)

The high cost of electricity is the challenge the Corporation Commission has primary and direct jurisdiction over.  The challenge the Commission has indirect and secondary jurisdiction over is water availability and sufficiency for all customers, including agriculture and natural resources industries. 


In recent years, the Commission has unjustly raised electricity and water rates on agriculture, residential customers, schools, and businesses.  Like I did for 9 1/2 years when I was a Commissioner, I will make sure that all customers, including agriculture are protected from unjust rate increases.  I will encourage conservation, so that sufficient water is available for all customers, including agriculture, especially in areas like Pinal County.


Kiana Sears (D)

I believe that the biggest challenge facing Arizona agricultural industries are the foreign companies that now operate in Arizona. The reason these foreign companies are a problem is because they are siphoning natural resources away from companies that operate in Arizona for Arizona. An example of this is alfalfa farmers that send their exports overseas to the Middle East and China. These companies come to Arizona in order to obtain low cost water and other resources, and have little economic benefit for Arizona. This makes water, which is already a scarce commodity, more difficult to obtain. Because this practice has began relatively recently, Arizona does not have the policies to handle these incoming companies.


The Arizona corporation commission needs to reform is policies in regards to agricultural and industrial industries to protect Arizona companies and resources. The main aim of reforming these policies would be to prevent such companies from water farming in Arizona. Frameworks can be established to raise the price of natural resources use to companies that are specifically looking to export large amount of products that absorb water and nature resources to other countries.






Dr. Robert Branch

I live in the farming community of Waddell, Arizona, and I know that the five largest challenges facing Arizona's agriculture and natural resources industries are:

1.      Labor

2.      Water

3.      Labor

4.      Labor

5.      Labor

Having a sustainable, skilled, and engaged workforce is paramount to the future of Arizona's agriculture and natural resources industries. 


I am running for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Arizona. The Superintendent of Public Instruction needs to work in concert with all industries to help build a sustainable, skilled, and engaged workforce.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction needs to work with Arizona's agriculture and natural resources industries to educate our students to careers in Arizona's agriculture and natural resources industries. Many of the K-12 educational tools and Continuing Education Units (CEU) that have been developed by the AZDA can be utilized in this effort. It is also imperative to grow Arizona’s Joint Technical Education Districts (JTED), Career and Technical Education programs (CTE), along with schools like West-MEC; to meet the needs of agriculture and natural resources industries and build a sustainable, skilled, and engaged workforce for Arizona's agriculture and natural resources industries.


Kathy Hoffman

With our rapidly changing economy, our agricultural workers are often some of the most impacted. This particularly true when we consider the tremendously volatile ups and downs of the stock market, which heavily impacts both the natural resource and agriculture industries. One has to look no further than the effects of the threatened "trade war" with China has had on many local farmers. As a teacher, I believe we need to begin engaging students with these issues and invest in the agricultural education programs in our schools.


Arizona's education system can help to overcome these challenges by first recognizing them, and then working with experts in the field to create solutions. I believe that with a Superintendent and school board who are responsive and respectful of these issues, we can create programs that help educate students on these issues and offers students opportunities to enter the field with a background knowledge in agriculture and natural resources if they so choose. Many such programs exist across the nation but, unfortunately, they are dwindling. With an increase in funding and focus, we can begin to address these issues through well-developed programs in our education system. We must begin looking toward the future and I know that Arizona's future starts in our schools. 


Frank Riggs

The biggest challenge facing Arizona's agriculture and natural resource industries is the regulatory restrictions placed on those industries, especially at the federal level.  Zealous environmental organizations have sought to limit the use of private property as well public lands to produce the food and fiber products that are vital to our economy and mankind's very survival.  Only 17.6% of all land in Arizona is privately-owned.  As Arizona's population continues to grow, we must ensure that increasing urbanization does not encroach upon our resource-based industries or reduce essential water supplies needed to sustain those industries.  We must also ensure that federal and state forest lands are selectively harvested for fire suppression purposes and the health of the forests and watersheds.


We should educate our students on the vital importance of our agricultural and resource industries, dating back to our country's founding.  They should learn about the source of the products they use and consume, from the food products used in school meals to pencil and paper in the classroom.  They should also learn about the 5th Amendment protection against private property takings as part of basic civics instruction on our country's founding documents and principles as a Constitutional Republic.