Hobbs picks farmer to replace Arizona Farm Bureau on water council

By Camryn Sanchez
Published: Thursday, November 9, 2023 - 3:15pm
Updated: Friday, November 10, 2023 - 8:00am

Katie Hobbs speaks at podium
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Oct. 3, 2023.

Gov. Katie Hobbs is spicing up her water policy council with the appointment of a chile farmer, following the withdrawal of former members who accused the council of failing to consider agricultural interests.

Hobbs announced Thursday that fourth-generation farmer Ed Curry is the newest addition to the Governor’s Water Policy Council.

Christian Slater, Hobbs’ communications director, confirmed that Curry is a replacement for the Arizona Farm Bureau, which withdrew in October along with Republican Sen. Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye).

Slater said he has “nothing to share” on whether Kerr will also be replaced on the committee.

When they withdrew from the council, Kerr and the Arizona Farm Bureau said the group pushed a “radical” agenda pushed by environmental groups. 

As agriculture uses a huge portion of the state’s water supply, there’s a longstanding concern from the farming community that efforts to conserve water will harm their agricultural practices. 

Sine Kerr
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
Sine Kerr

The council has a particular emphasis on protecting groundwater. The use of groundwater is regulated in some parts of the state under active management areas, but in others, it is barely restricted at all.

Arizona Farm Bureau President Stephanie Smallhouse said in a statement at the time of her group’s withdrawal from the council that the group appeared to have a predetermined outcome, “as essentially a cross between the seriously flawed attempts of the past and an AMA.” 

Smallhouse said her priorities were barely considered or dismissed. 

“This is unacceptable to our members, farm and ranch families who will undoubtedly be impacted directly and immediately by any rural groundwater regulatory framework,” she stated.

Curry said in a statement from the governor’s office that he understands the importance of water management and conservation and is ready to contribute to the process.

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