With the General Election only a few short weeks away, the Arizona Farm Bureau reached out to candidates in key races to solicit their response to our 2018 General Election Candidate Questionnaire. The agriculture-focused questions were designed to give members an overview of the agriculture-related positions held by candidates in key races. Specifically, candidates were asked:

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


“While reading your candidates’ responses is critical to how you decide to vote in your district, assessing what all the candidates are saying in this article helps you understand where they stand when it comes to agriculture and natural resources and how it will impact your business and livelihood,” said Arizona Farm Bureau CEO Philip Bashaw.

Important Points to Remember

  • Candidates questioned were those in key races of particular importance to agriculture.
  • All responses are published below in alphabetical by political party.
  • There are some candidates that have yet to respond. Please watch out for an updated version of this article on our blog on azfb.org. 


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.

Watersheds are vital to agriculture and urban areas of the state.  Decades ago, the feds introduced the salt cedar tamarisk as an erosion control method.  The salt cedar, however, has choked and infested watersheds 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  Now both are ignored and have been replaced by recreation and wildlife concerns.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 watersheds 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.

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

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 states 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.

Lea Marquez-Peterson (R)

Over-regulation!  I very much appreciate and respect agriculture and natural resource producers, and their combined $30B economic contribution to Arizona’s economy.  I’m from Southern Arizona, and I know firsthand that these industries are key to the entire economy of our rural areas.  From large corporations to small family businesses, they all face many challenges from regulatory overreach by our government, which has forgotten it is supposed to be for the people! 

Whether the regulations have to do with the environment, land and water use, the labor force, or trade -- government is killing job-creating natural resource industries with often well-intended but ineffective and downright harmful regulations.  I have spent my entire career helping businesses succeed; that is my passion.  When it comes to sustainability, our farmers, ranchers and small businesspeople are what needs to be sustained, and I am going to Congress to do just that!

In Congress, I will be a strong advocate and work to get government off the backs of our hardworking farmers, ranchers and miners who are producing the things the rest of us rely on for life, both here and around the world.  Being one of a very few border districts, CD-2 is at the epicenter of border security, international trade, environmental and water issues, which gives me a strong platform to implement change from.

I have a history of working with others and getting things done.  Thanks to many years of work by the Farm Bureau and other advocacy groups, Congress has a chance to modernize the Endangered Species Act, reign in the EPA, and implement commonsense tort reform to stop the use of our court system to unreasonably hinder natural resource production.  You know what the solutions are.  I will be your voice in Washington and together, we will make solutions happen! 

Congressional District 8 – Surprise, Anthem, New River, Youngstown, Litchfield Park

Debbie Lesko (R)

Arizona has a robust agricultural and natural resource industry that needs to be protected and grown. The Arizona climate allows our farmers and ranchers to be year-round producers. Arizona also has an abundance of natural resources like copper and other minerals that need to be utilized. In our ever-increasing modernizing economy, we tend to forget about these vital industries and we must allow these industries to continue to flourish under a strong economy. One of the biggest challenges these industries face are crippling regulations from the federal government. Regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and laws like the Endangered Species Act make it tougher for these industries to grow and do their work. Furthermore, having a lower and more consistent tax code is also crucial to protecting these critical industries in Arizona. I also believe that in Arizona, we need to have strong and fair-trade deals for Arizona farmers. Because of the strength of Arizona’s agriculture, we are uniquely positioned to export many of our products.

My office is here to represent the constituents of Arizona’s 8 th Congressional District and protect the interests of Arizona. As the current Congresswoman from Congressional District 8, it has been an honor to serve and fight for the people of Arizona. I will continue to advocate for policies that not only serve for the benefit of the entire country, but also have Arizona’s best interests in mind. That is why, I voted for the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2), which included important programs for Arizona farmers and also reformed food stamps to include work requirements for able-bodied adults. The Farm Bill also included the repeal of the devastating Waters of the United States, also known as WOTUS, rule. I was also an active participant in the most recent immigration debate. I met with President Trump to discuss my concerns and what Arizona needed. That is why I was a cosponsor of Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), which would have closed immigration loopholes, funded the wall and border security, and reformed agricultural workforce issues. I am also a cosponsor of making the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent (H.R. 4886), so there is stability and strength in our tax code. As your Congresswoman from Arizona, I will continue to fight and work with the Arizona delegation in Congress to ensure that the needs of our state are met. That is why it is vitally important to me that I am accessible and responsive to your needs. Your representative in Congress should represent your interests and your needs and that is exactly what I plan on containing to do. 

Congressional District 9 – Tempe, Mesa, Arcadia

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. 

Dr. Steve Ferrara (R)

In terms of pressing challenges requiring strong advocacy at the federal level, environmental regulations, water rights, and workforce are three that top my list. While it’s difficult to rank them since they are all so critically important, ensuring a reliable labor supply is certainly front and center. 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.


David Garcia (D)

The agricultural and natural resource industries face many, many important challenges, ranging from water availability and the price of land, to government regulation and fallout from the President’s trade war. As governor, I will work closely with growers and ranchers to address these issues, so that the needs of your communities are recognized and met. This is important to me because your industries are a key part of Arizona’s economy, but also because they are a cornerstone of our nation’s economic independence and national security.

One issue I would particularly like to address with your members is the legal use of guest workers. We have years of data showing that Americans workers are unwilling to do these jobs, and whether we live in rural or urban communities, this is a fact that threatens our way of life. And regardless of which political Party you choose to affiliate with, it is clear that Republican politicians have so boxed themselves in that they will never be able to talk about the issue, much less do anything helpful.

As a 4th generation Arizonan, an Army veteran who served to protect our borders, a Latino, and the Governor of a border state, I will be in a unique position to bring attention to this issue and use the governor’s bully pulpit to make a positive difference. And because it is essential to the future of our state, I will.

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.


Katie Hobbs (D)

Arizona wouldn't be what it is today without access to water and we must protect that access for everyone - agriculture, development, municipalities, and recreation. We are facing a crisis when it comes to our water supply and there is a lack of leadership on this issue. It is being politicized - deals are being made behind closed doors in Phoenix, without including everyone who should be at the table. A long-term solution must be reached in a collaborative and transparent way. 

While the secretary of state's office does not have a direct role in managing water issues, the secretary of state is next in line of succession to the governor, and so it is important for the next secretary of state to understand this complex issue and be ready to take action should they become governor. As the Senate minority leader, I have the knowledge and ability to do this on day one.

Steve Gaynor (R)

Arizona has a rich history in agriculture. Agriculture represents more than 8 percent of Arizona’s total economic output. The biggest challenge facing Arizona agriculture is the availability of water. If the level of Lake Mead falls below 1,075 feet elevation, Arizona could lose half of its allocation of Colorado River water. Other sources of water are also at risk if drought conditions continue. We need to find creative ways to plan for and deal with the increasing scarcity of this vital resource so that we can maintain our agricultural economy and ensure the state’s long-term viability.

To my knowledge, the Secretary of State’s office does not have any direct connection with state water policy with regard to agriculture, or otherwise. However, the Secretary of State is effectively the state’s Lieutenant Governor. In that role, I would offer to join the Governor whenever possible to engage all parties with an interest in water policy and assist in dealing with what could become a major challenge for Arizona’s agricultural economy and way of life. 


Mark Brnovich (R)

More than a dozen federal agencies and departments have some sort of regulatory authority over the environment and the shaping of natural resource polices. Unfortunately, heavy-handed regulation and unnecessary government action from agencies such as the EPA, the Department of Interior, and the Department of Agriculture have had a tremendous impact on our economy, our property, and the rights of the American people. Here in the western states, federal public lands constitute over 50% of the total land, and we've seen recent attempts by federal authorities to further reduce access to our land. Policies regarding water, federal public lands, energy, and endangered species are all examples of areas where the federal government has had a negative impact on Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries. I love Arizona and want to preserve our landscapes and protect our environment, but we must push back against efforts to control our local economies guise under the false banner of environmental protection.  

We have played a significant role and continue to demonstrate a significant impact in overcoming the regulatory challenges facing Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources communities. In my first year in office, we established the first ever Federalism Unit. We have filed several legal challenges and joined other states in pushing back against government regulations and special interest group litigation that would result in devastating impacts for our rural communities. For example, we are part of the lawsuit challenging the Waterways of the United States (WOTUS) rulemaking, we are part of the effort to repeal the EPA Clean Power Plan, and we objected to the federal government’s original Mexican gray wolf reintroduction proposal when they failed to consider input from Arizona ranchers and local wildlife management experts. If re-elected as attorney general, I will continue to fight on behalf of Arizona.  


Mark Manoil (D)

The biggest challenge facing Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries is the struggle to maintain profitability while balancing multiple societal factors. These industries must balance long-term profitability with environmental stewardship and sustainable practices while simultaneously experiencing decreased access to capital in many parts of rural Arizona. There needs to be a continued commitment to the agricultural and natural resources economic sectors within public policy making as they serve as major economic drivers - particularly as sources of income from outside the state.

The State Treasurer’s office should focus on developing a healthier local financial service industry in Arizona in order to provide banking services and better credit availability to entrepreneurs, businesses, and hardworking families. Increasing Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries’ access to capital will help maximize their opportunities, fund their operations, and allow them to overcome the many barriers that they face. The Treasurer’s office should also play a watchdog role to ensure that the Legislature no longer redirects state shared revenue away from rural communities, which causes local tax hikes to pay for essential governmental services. I will work to create a robust community banking system which will allow family farms and small businesses to have access to low-interest loans and basic banking services. There is a stark difference in the commitment politicians used to have for our students and teachers when I was growing up to now. While all of Arizona’s schools are being affected, rural communities are being hit the hardest. I will work to ensure that our schools have the funding that they need and guarantee educational opportunities which will allow Arizona’s family businesses to stay within their families.

Kimberly Yee (R)

I have been a strong advocate of the Arizona Farm Bureau during my time in the Arizona Legislature because I support businesses and those who build the foundation of our robust Arizona economy. Our farmers and ranchers create jobs and produce a boundless marketplace of products for consumers in Arizona and beyond our state's borders.  The biggest challenge to face these industries is the current policy debate around water, one of our most precious resources.  It is important that rural Arizona farmers and ranchers are at the table to provide their critical input when policymakers are creating new laws surrounding water supply issues.  I would oppose any government regulations that could harm the farming industry and their day to day operations because I believe the result could negatively impact the economic marketplace and Arizona's economy.

The Office of the Arizona Treasurer does not directly influence decisions concerning these issues as would the Arizona Legislature.  As State Treasurer, it would be important, however, to discuss how the State can continue its successful course to a pathway of economic activity and prosperity.  The ranching and farming industries support those economic efforts.  As State Treasurer, I would advocate for rural communities in Arizona and continue to be a friend of the farming industry. 


Kathy Hoffman (D)

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 (R)

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.


Sandra Kennedy (D)

The biggest challenge facing these industries is water.

The Commission regulates about 300 private water companies, and it can use its authorities to require water conservation. But the Commission has no authority over agricultural water usage and natural resource industries and their operations

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 begun 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.

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 Ph.D. 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. 

While the two Democrats are pushing hard for mandates that will distort the markets and make water and power scarcer and more expensive in the name of environmentalism, I know that agriculture needs affordable and reliable water and power and that requires regulators who are informed, impartial, and forward-looking. I'll continue advocating for restoring integrity at the Commission through adoption of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct and I'll keep long-term planning, with an emphasis on water, the central element of my campaign. Everyone talks about it -- I’ve got the know-how to get it done.

Justin Olson (R)

It has been an honor to serve on the Arizona Corporation Commission since being appointed by Governor Ducey in October of last year.

My number one priority on the Commission has been to serve with the highest standards of ethics and integrity and to do everything in my power to strengthen the public confidence in the Commission.

With my fellow Commissioners, I voted to enact Arizona’s first-ever Commissioner’s Code of Ethics. I offered amendments to the Code of Ethics to prohibit all candidates for the Commission from accepting campaign contributions from entities that the Commission regulates, mirroring the policy that my campaign had already adopted.

On the Commission, I have been a voice for low utility rates and reliable public services. With my background as a tax manager, I led an effort at the Commission to require utilities to reduce their rates and pass their income tax savings on to ratepayers. Ratepayers will pay $190 million less annually as a result of these efforts.

Prior to serving on the Commission, I was a conservative leader in the State Legislature. I earned an MBA in Finance from ASU. I’m a native Arizonan, a husband and father.

Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries are clearly an important part of Arizona’s economy. The extensive length of the current drought presents a significant challenge to these vital industries.

The Corporation Commission can play a critical role in highlighting this important topic at the state level. As a Commissioner, I have met with farmers and ranchers from all across the state and have heard first-hand the challenges they face in maintaining their vital water rights. On the Commission, I have worked to amplify the messages that I hear from these hard working farmers while I advocate for low utility rates and reliable public services.


Legislative District 5 – Mohave Valley, La Paz Valley

Mary McCord Robinson (D)

I will be voting yes on prop 127 as I strongly believe we need to put in place and action moving forward with renewable energy.  

I believe our current drought is putting pressure on our water resources.  While I fully support agriculture I would like for our farms to think "green" when deciding what to grow.  

 I would like to see legislators work more closely with our agriculture and natural resources industries to better understand needs and concerns.  I have been traveling my district and consistently hear "no one is listening."  I will listen and represent! 

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. 

Legislative District 6 – Flagstaff, Payson, Snowflake

Felicia French (D)

Water shortages along with new trade tariffs imposed by the federal government are the most detrimental challenges to Arizona's agriculture and natural resource industries.

To overcome these challenges, state legislators need to ensure that water conservation measures and policies are in place that addresses business, residential and recreational overuse, ensuring that adequate agriculture and drinking water is a priority.

As a representative of rural Arizona, I will fight to make sure that the agriculture industry receives the water they need to grow food and other cash crops, while also incentivizing farmers to conserve water and provide transition assistance to grow less water-intensive crops so that there is water available for all farmers and Arizonans for many years to come.

Before new trade tariffs were imposed by the federal government this year, Arizonan farmers were selling their beef, cotton, and dairy overseas. About 97% of Arizona’s cotton was exported to China and other countries. However, due to the federal government’s new trade wars, many Arizonan farmers are struggling to sell their crops, and therefore are not able to make an income without government assistance.

As an Arizona legislator, I will work across the aisle and with farmers to find new and sustainable markets for their crops and protect their livelihoods from arbitrary federal trade wars. 

Walt Blackman (R)

The biggest challenges currently facing our agriculture and natural resource industries are the corporatization of sectors as well as the complications that arise from our presently chaotic trade policy. Small farms, which had been for decades the backbone of our agricultural industry in Arizona, 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. 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 severe impact on our farmers and ranchers. It's vital that we recognize these challenges and reasonably address them. 

The expansion and contraction of the state legislator have significant implications for environmental policy, raising questions about the appropriate scope and role for government in protecting the environment. My office along with the executive needs to reach out to stakeholders and use their expertise to come to a workable solution to correct these issues. 

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 8 – Casa Grande, San Tan Valley, Coolidge, Oracle, Globe, Miami

Carmen Casillas (D)

I believe there is more than one big challenge facing these industries, for example: explosive growth and development, current levels of air and water pollution, inadequate water supplies in some areas, and the loss of natural habitats. throughout our, State are reshaping Arizona

Even though Arizona has made a great effort to balance the benefits of the population and economic growth while trying to safeguard the features that attract people to our beautiful State, explosive growth has resulted in an assortment of features that impact Agriculture and natural resources.

Traffic congestion which lessens the quality of life as it contributes to air pollution, which in turn reduces the visibility of our State's natural beauty. The swift flood of new residents has contributed to higher housing costs and increased utilization of potable water and energy resources.

Environmental impacts include the creation of diminished air quality, destruction of habitat, loss of lowland rivers and streams, loss of grasslands and the invasion of non­ native species. Arizona has had mixed success in managing growth and should take adequate steps to ensure future statewide effectiveness.

Demographic and infrastructure changes play off against each other. For instance greater interest in vertical housing and business, development along the route, Renewed interest in urban living is demonstrated by the movement of young professionals into inner city areas, although technology can facilitate working-from-home options that may ease infrastructure demands while the aging  population puts new demand on the in fracture, particularly with respect to health care facilities, transportation and a desire for self-sufficient communities that meet the needs of residents with limited mobility and those unable to drive.

As your State Representative my efforts will be placed on working with governmental entities, businesses and constituents on the implementation of new technology and resource conservation planning along with increased funding.

Also, minimize the conversion of agricultural lands to residential developments and work on the transportation of water to areas in need.

David Cook (R)

Overregulation by state and federal agencies continues to be a challenge I’m working every day to address. These vitally important industries need a voice in government who understands their business and can cut through bureaucratic red tape to ensure the long-term success of our agriculture industry. We need to safeguard against government bureaucrats who don’t understand the complex nature of these operations. I will continue to protect our farming families and businesses who are producing the largest, safest food supply in the world. 

As a Farm Bureau member in both Arizona and Oklahoma, I know all to well the challenge of running an operation that interacts with multiple levels of government. As one of only a few in agriculture at the legislature, I am uniquely qualified to address the issues facing our industry. I will continue to represent and defend the freedoms of our agriculture producers while protecting their water rights, all while continuing to grow our industry. The priority needs to remain safe, affordable, healthy food supplies for families in our state.

TJ Shope (R)

There are many significant issues that face Arizona over the next several years.  Some are new and others, like availability of water, stand the test of time in our desert climate.  While Arizona has many things to be proud of in regards to water, we still need to be vigilant as we move into the future.  Continued drought conditions all across the western United States as well as overcrowded forests and invasive plant species which tax our water supply will continue to cause us to find creative solutions to the age-old issue of water scarcity.

For those of us who have been here in Arizona for generations, we know that drought conditions ebb and flow so we need to be asking candidates for office what they will be doing to protect Arizona’s share of water.  We need to be investing and re-investing in agencies such as the Central Arizona Project and Arizona Department of Water Resources so that the best minds in Arizona can help our farmers & ranchers, as well as developers, ensure that there is enough water for everybody, especially those of us in Pinal County!  Our job as legislators is to see in to the future and develop policies that will stand the test of time and with your support, I hope to continue to do that.

Legislative District 11 – Maricopa, Stanfield, Marana

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.

Mark Finchem (R)

The biggest challenge, of course, is assured water supply. As I have said before, the agriculture community has been top performers in developing and implementing water conservation strategies. Unfortunately, we cannot conserve our way out of a supply issue, especially when faced with population growth. We must develop a strategy that increases supply. This is likely to include purification and desalination. Purification of the abundant brackish water we have buys us time. Desalination is a longer strategy to support growth and will require intergovernmental cooperation with multiple states and the federal government, but Israel has proven it is a viable supply-side solution.

The Legislature is the policy-setting body in government, extending the intergovernmental agreement invitation to other legislatures and the federal government is a first step. When the federal government sees that there is a Legislature ready, willing and able to work with it to accomplish a meaningful public works project, ala CAP, there is interest in moving projects from concept to reality. 

Legislative District 13 – Buckeye, Tonopah, Wellton, Yuma

Tim Dunn (R)

Water availability is the biggest challenge affecting Agriculture in the state.  The effects of the 20-year drought are taking its toll on our states aquifers and the level of lake Mead.  Arizona has been visionary since before we were a state on taming the rivers and developing sound water policy.  As your State Representative from LD 13 I have traveled the state with our energy committee holding hearings.  I have met many friends and heard first hand of your challenges.  Each region has unique challenges that can’t be fixed with one or two legislative bills nor should they.  Stakeholder meetings are and will continue to occur through the DCP process. I understand the value Agriculture brings to the all of Arizona and am committed to being a strong voice at the Capital.   

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.

Legislative District 14 – Safford, Willcox, Sierra Vista

Bob Karp (D)

The major issue facing agriculture and natural resource industries in Arizona is access to water and water rights.  This is particularly important in the rural communities of southeast Arizona.  The crisis is not just in water availability, it is also in the lack of a defined, sustainable and comprehensive water policy that all stakeholders will embrace.  We cannot have continued economic growth with about some certainty to state-wide water policy.  The public does not understand the history of water rights in Arizona and the various legal cases and agreements that have been made since Arizona became a state.  This creates an inability to get consensus on this very difficult issue.

Because jurisdiction over water policy is fragmented between federal, state and local entities there must be leadership to resolve issues and create a unified and accepted water policy.  I believe this takes leadership from the governor in bringing state stakeholders together to provide a more coherent set of arguments and proposed solutions when negotiating with EPA, BLM and other federal entities.  As a state representative, I would lobby and support the governor’s effort to create a state-wide commission on water rights.  I would not support legislation that focused only on a local solution.

Gail Griffin (R)

Arizona needs a strong voice at the capital for our rural issues and agriculture industries.

I have been that voice for many years and I will continue to stand up and fight 

for the protection of water and property rights as well as our Natural Resource Industries.

Water and Land Use Issues and challenges are among the top concerns for the agriculture industry.

Other issues we need to address (and challenge) are the continuing overreach of government at both

the state and federal levels. Over-regulation... mandates... and the loss of private property

reduces the tax base of our local communities.

We need more transparency in government. We need real science when addressing threatened and

endangered species. Government should not use the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act

or other federal programs to take or restrict private property historic uses. 

I believe in Limited Government, Lower Taxes, Personal Responsibility and in the Free Enterprise System.

I support the Agriculture Industry and will continue to be your voice. I will continue to support and defend our


I am a successful businesswoman. I have been involved in local, state and federal issues for many years.

I am a Life Member of the NRA, a member of the Arizona Farm Bureau and the Arizona Cattle Growers.

As Chairman of the Senate Natural Resource, Energy and Water Committee, I have received many awards

for my work on rural issues and I promise to continue to WORK for the PEOPLE. 

I am running for the Arizona House of Representatives and I ask for your vote and your continued support.

My door is always open to discuss issues and concerns you may have. Thank you.

Becky Nutt (R)

The primary sectors of Arizona's economy are agriculture and extractive industries—agriculture has a $23.3 billion impact and the extractive industries have an $11 billion impact.  Although there are other industries that belong in the category of natural resources, I am focusing on these two as both are heavily in my legislative district.

These two sectors drive Arizona's economy and face the same challenge:  water scarcity and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation.  Although these industries are very different, the goods which are not produced by the agriculture community are probably produced by the mining community. 

The drought conditions of our state have led to more than a year of on-going discussions surrounding a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP).  One issue at the Legislature last year was to protect agriculture in Pinal County with manageable mitigation efforts before the DCP would be approved.  It wasn’t approved.  The current focus of discussions is on mitigation.

One of the water issues facing my district is hot grounds, relating to the Globe Equity Decree.  Simply put, farmers back in the early 1900s had to pay for decreed water rights to irrigate their land.  They did not obtain rights to irrigate certain portions of their land which may have had a shed on it.  Fast forward 110 years and those small portions of land without rights have shifted.  Landowners cannot irrigate those portions of land, some are unusual geometrical shapes sitting in the middle of the farmer's field. 

NAFTA discussions several months ago were very concerning for the agricultural community and mining.  Currently, there is a bilateral agreement in place with Mexico that needs a blessing from Congress.  The agreement has given agriculture and mining some peace of mind.

I have and will continue to protect these industries for my district and Arizona.

Legislative District 16 – Mesa, San Tan Valley, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon

John Fillmore (R)

I believe that Arizona’s agriculture and natural resources industries are important economic engines for Arizona and the biggest threat to them, in my opinion, is water rights and the security in keeping the water available. I am not coached in all aspects of the water issues, but I believe that past administrations have given too many water rights away to other states (as in the Arizona canal and to the Indian communities). The ability for our state to manage the water is being challenged by the changes in the environment and weather patterns. It is incumbent upon us to protect the farmers and communities that need the water in this arid state and I will work with those better qualified to assure that this is the path Arizona takes.


Legislative District 6 – Flagstaff, Payson, Snowflake

Wade Carlisle (D)

The biggest issues facing the industry are: water rights, farm labor, preservation of agricultural land, notification of adjacent agricultural use, land use planning and notification of owners, “uses-by-right” for farms and ranches, Eminent Domain Condemnations, mineral rights, floor plain condemnation and designations, invasive plants and animal, food quality standards and air quality and dust management.

There are many ways to address the issues facing Arizona. Agriculture is a $23.3 billion industry in Arizona, and its greatest threat right now is water availability, and the biggest concern is water rights. We need to develop a water use plan to support the increasing city populations. There is also a serious demand for quality farm labor, and we need to focus on meeting the demands of the agriculture industry. There is also a need for protecting agricultural land from development, encroachment, condemnation, annexation and zoning. Part of that will require ensuring that we adequately fund the Arizona Department of Agriculture. We should also ensure that when it comes to herbicide and pesticide use that we are looking to peer-reviewed research and scientific data to set the standards by which public health is measured. Finally, we must ensure that any regulation passed to address air quality and dust management takes into consideration and is supportive of the agricultural industry. 

Sylvia Allen (R)

I’ve been involved with natural resources issues for over 20 years going back to the Timber Wars of the 90’s. Today some progress has been made with the new administration in Washington, but federal regulations are still a huge concern for timber and ranching families. We still are not able to keep a steady flow of timber sales and thinning projects, and Four Forest Restoration Project is still struggling. So, the state must continue to push for forest health.

The wolf in my part of the state is still causing problems for our ranching families we must continue to assert state rights and put pressure upon our Arizona Congressional Delegation to help us with these federal lands issues. On a state level we must support the AZ Department of Ag, State Forestry, and our State Lands Department with adequate funding and be sure we do not weight down these agencies will any burdensome regulations. As for water we must protect our rural water supplies and those who have private water rights and our irrigation districts. I have sat on the Senate Natural Resource, Water and Environment Committee since I have been in the Senate. I will continue to be part of this most important committee to protect our rural natural resource producers and our water.

Legislative District 8 – LOCATION

Sharon Girard (D)

The biggest challenge to economics, agriculture, and our rural communities is water management.  Water conservation, resources and renewal will be the biggest issue for the future if Arizona wants to compete, develop and endure.  We must become proactive and work for responsible water management.  The 1980 Groundwater Management Act was historic but we need to do more.  In the midst of a drought and situated in the desert, Arizona must act now to protect all in the future.

As a legislator, we must act now for the future of our state.  Water impacts agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and sustains our citizens.  I will work with stakeholders and experts to come up with a viable, proactive plan that protect and works for everyone.

Frank Pratt (R)

Water! Arizona's growth has been based on where water flows. Increasing pressure from the expanding needs of municipalities and industries has changed the flow from rural Arizona to urban areas.  This puts rural economies in jeopardy. This is happening to traditional commercial crop production, other rural small business operations, and the utilization of rangeland.

There has been increased demand on land and water from outside interests. Water basins without sufficient recharge are under pressure due to the service needs of areas like northwest Arizona.  Sub flows have been redefined as Colorado River water and could possibly be redirected to neighboring states.

While I believe that a land use owner has a right to sell their land for a profit, we need to protect water as a resource.  This water must be used wisely for the food supply and the related economies of other rural enterprises.  Water is also needed to support homebuilding, mining, manufacturing, and industry. Arizona needs policy decisions to protect the long-term multitude of interests and economies that rely on water.

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 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

Michelle Harris (D)

The greatest challenge facing Arizona is the continued drought and drop in the Colorado River. We are approaching the level that would require implementation of drought plans. However, our elected leaders have failed come up with a plan, let alone put legislation in place to support that plan. This must be done next legislative session, or else the federal government will force one on us. We need to take concrete steps to ensure we cut water usage, principally in residential markets, to protect our agricultural water supply. If we don’t take steps now the drought could permanently impact our state’s economy and everyone who lives here.  

As a legislator, leading the way to overcome politics to develop and approve a drought contingency plan is one of my top priorities once elected.  Additionally, we need to develop policies that enhance low-water building codes, and also expand our capacity to treat and reuse effluent and gray water, especially when it comes to residential and commercial non-ag irrigation. I’d also like to partner with Corporation Commissioners to help develop new rate structures that incentivize conservation without hurting the utility providers. 

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)

Federal overreach and private property rights are huge, but the biggest challenge is the future of Arizona’s water supply, which is the most critical 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 federal mandatory cutbacks of our share of Colorado River water -- Arizona is at risk of being the first to lose out. This would have a dramatic effect on our farmers, ranchers, and rural regions. The Legislature can do something and must do something to always protect our water rights. It will take leadership and tenacity to fight for those water rights and to craft legislative solutions.  It isn't particularly glamorous work, but just as I did as your State Representative in 2015 when I fought and passed legislation that created the first public College of Veterinarian Medicine in our State at the University of Arizona, I'll grind and get the job done. I promise, as your State Senator from LD14, I will fight to protect our rural water supplies with all my strength and power.

Legislative District 18 –Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, Mesa

Frank Schmuck (R)

Not much agriculture in LD18 but I do support the agriculture industry by having purchased red fence posts for my political signs that are made in the USA and sold from southern Arizona. 

I look at issues holistically and determine their solutions by asking: First, is it safe? Second, is it efficient?  and third does it deliver for the people we serve? 

You can expect that I will approach agricultural issues this way.

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