Saudi Arabia buying US farms to grow hay for their cows
Water scarcity is resulting in a trend that has incited criticism from some American farmers and officials.
CNBC reports that companies based in Saudi Arabia and its neighbors are purchasing farmland in California and Arizona. In the case of the former, some is being used to grow alfalfa hay for their own dairy cows back home.
The Saudi dairy giant Almarai Company recently purchased 1,790 acres of land in Blythe, California for $31.8 million.
It also bought a farm in the Arizona desert last year, according to NPR.
To some in the U.S., this activity is the equivalent of "exporting water," and they are calling for government restrictions.
Compounding the problem is the fact that alfalfa is particularly water-intensive to grow which is expected to drain more resources from the already drought-stricken southwestern U.S.
Saudi Arabia's government has announced limitations on cultivating such crops domestically because of limited water.
That said, the country's dairy sector is only expected to grow due to population growth and demographic changes.
Related: See how farms have been affected by drought along the Colorado River: