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Arizona helped finance alfalfa farm using state retirement funds, Reveal investigation shows

Reports of Saudi-owned companies operating farms in western Arizona and pumping groundwater to grow alfalfa — which is then exported out of the country — have led some state officials to start investigating.

This spring, the state Department of Water Resources revoked two permits to drill wells it had previously issued to Fondomonte Arizona. And Attorney General Kris Mayes says she’s looking into what else her office might be able to do to stop firms like this from pumping groundwater.

But a new investigation finds in at least one instance, it was the state of Arizona itself that helped finance this kind of operation in the form of the Arizona State Retirement System. 

Nate Halverson is a reporter and producer at Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. He joined The Show to talk about what he found. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ employees are members of the Arizona State Retirement System.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.