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Blackfoot farmer expresses concern about water curtailment

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI) - For generations, Brian Murdock and his ancestors have been farmers in Bingham County, where they have grown the potatoes that we eat every day.

"This is our 135th year of farming here," Murdock said. "We are one of the oldest potato growing families of Idaho. There is a lot of responsibility."

 His way of living has taken a recent turn, with the state ordering a water curtailment of 500,000 acres, or what Murdock says is 781 square miles of farm land.

The state believes they need to replenish the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer.

"We could fix this problem after the growing season is over," Murdock said. "As I like to say, the aquifer wasn't made in one year. We can't break it in one year. But the state and the Idaho Department of Water Resources will certainly break East Idaho in one year. Or in fact, they'll break us in three weeks."

Murdock believes the farmers in southern Idaho are benefiting from the curtailment, but says there isn't a problem with their current water supply.

"This curtailment is not necessary, especially right now," Murdock said. "There is no farmer in southern Idaho off of the Twin Falls Canal that is going to experience a water shortage this year. It's impossible."

Murdock says his farm grows 23 million large orders of McDonald’s french fries and 16 million loaves of bread.

He says he facing a $3 million loss if the curtailment stays in effect.

"We are at a very critical stage in the potato production because these plants, we will stunt the growth," Murdock said. "This is when we will damage ourselves for sure because of lack of water."

Murdock says his farm makes up less than 1% of the land that makes up the curtailment, and believes his land and the other 99% should be a priority for the state's protection going forward.

"This is the state's water," Murdock said. "We do not disagree with that. We have only been granted a right to get that water, but the state issued that right, and we build our lives upon that right. And for the state to come in at this point in time and say that right is no longer valid. You are curtailed, especially mid-season, at a very critical time for our crops. That is very frustrating."

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Cole Sams


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