Water issues prompt closure of Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers

1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago Saturday, February 24 2024 Feb 24, 2024 February 24, 2024 4:59 PM February 24, 2024 in News

It's an end of an era for Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers.

On Thursday, the company tasked with growing and processing sugarcane into raw sugar in the Valley announced they were closing after 51 years in business.

“It's a very sad day to have to say goodbye to sugar cane in the Rio Grande Valley,” Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Chairman Tudor Uhlhorn said.

About 500 employees are affected by the closure.

Uhlorn says a lack of irrigation water that farmers across the Valley are struggling with is prompting the closure.

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Uhloran and others are pushing Mexico to speed up water deliveries owed to the U.S. under a 1944 treaty.

Water from those deliveries could have saved the sugar cane fields, Uhloran says.

Cameron County Irrigation District #2 General Manager Craig Harmon says the district has only been able to give farmers irrigation water once in the last three years.

“If we had that water behind our dams, we wouldn't be in this situation,” Harmon said. “We would have enough water for our farmers to be able to have at least one, maybe two irrigations a year."

The recent rainfall is not enough to fill the need. 

Without water, farmers can't have the yield they need to make the profits that are needed in order to sustain business.

Uhlorn says employees were given a two-month notice ahead of Thursday’s closures announcement.

The last day for full-time employees will be Monday, April 29. 

Watch the video above for the full story.

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