Your Ecological House: Playing climate roulette in Utah

June 26, 2022 (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Now here’s a factoid for ya. Spencer Cox, the Governor of Utah, is an alfalfa farmer.

“What’s that got to do with the price of beef in Japan?” you might ask.

We’ll get to that soon, but first we have to understand why Cox’s intimate connection to his state’s largest agricultural sector matters.

Let’s start with some other factoids. Eighty-two percent of Utah’s water consumption goes to agriculture; households and businesses use 18%. Half the agricultural water supply goes to growing thirsty alfalfa, which, according a 2015 Utah Foundation report, consumes as much as 75% more water per acre than do barley or other grains. There are techniques for growing alfalfa using less water, but little incentive to employ them. According to the report, Utah farmers who conserve water risk losing part of their annual allotments to farmers who use more…

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