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CRIT farm manager says the Colorado River's tribal farmers are one big family

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Colorado River water users held their annual conference in Las Vegas this week. Sustainable agriculture was one of the major topics, and Arizona tribal communities are a big part of that conversation.

A panel — “Considering Rural Enhancements: Innovations and Challenges for Sustainable Agriculture in the Basin,” with stakeholders from Wyoming to Mexico — assembled on Thursday.

As a farm manager for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, or CRIT, Josh Moore oversees 33,000 acres of land. Agriculture uses approximately 80% of the Colorado River. Cotton and alfalfa are the main crops CRIT grows, but both are water-intensive.

“The Colorado River is not just a resource for us. It’s who we are,” said Moore. “It’s often generalized that farming is this faceless industry that rapes the earth and takes away from future generations. Even though I am an enterprise of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, I’m still a family owned and operated farm. It’s just my family’s 4,512 members.”

An estimated 4 to 6 acre-feet is needed per acre of alfalfa during the growing season. About 60 percent of CRIT Farms’ commercial land is set aside for its production.

Gabriel Pietrorazio is a correspondent who reports on tribal natural resources for KJZZ.