Rick Evans, 5th generation Arizona farmer, shared several great points about agriculture in Maricopa County at the Farm-City Partnership Breakfast April 2nd. The Farm-City breakfast was hosted at Harper’s Nursery in Mesa, Arizona.

  • Agriculture has always played a major role in Arizona and Maricopa County
  • The U.S. Army had a strong presence when the state was rough and wild; but then they needed farmers to feed the soldiers
  • There is a monument at 24th Street and Washington that marks the site of the first farm in Maricopa County … founded in 1867 by Jack Swilling … who first had to dig a canal to bring water from the river.
  • It was farmers who pledged their farms as collateral to the Bureau of Reclamation to secure funding to build Roosevelt Dam and secure water for the valley … first for agriculture and now for cities.

That was then. What about now?

  • There are more than 1,700 farms in Maricopa County … farms of all sizes.
  • Agriculture is a $12.4 Billion industry in Arizona and a big share of that comes from Maricopa County.
  • Arizona Agriculture employs 77,000 people in Arizona.
  • Agriculture is a capital-intensive industry
  • Large investment in equipment and an elaborate irrigation system
  • Our largest expenditures are for water and energy
  • We grow crops as diverse as the people who live here
  • Go through the alphabet and we grow crops for most of the letters of the alphabet … maybe not for X
  • We face regulations on dust, water quantity and quality, endangered species, zoning and building, etc. etc.
  • Complaints go to cities and the county about things that are part and parcel of farming – dust, noise, smells and moving large equipment on the streets.
  • Through all of that … we provide affordable, safe and abundant food
  • We boost the economy
  • And our crops enhance the beauty of Maricopa County. Wouldn’t you rather look at a nursery like this one or a corn field or cotton field or alfalfa field than a warehouse?
  • We hope you government leaders will value and encourage agriculture in Maricopa County.

For nearly 25 years, Maricopa County has hosted the Farm-City breakfasts. These breakfasts are designed to invited community leaders from the political, educational and civic arena to connect with Maricopa County’s farmers and ranchers.

While many would contend we have too many meetings, everyone looks forward to this spring series of Farm-City breakfasts. It’s a chance to understand this state’s agriculture and connect with those committed to bettering our state and certainly our county.