Minnesota-based agri-business Riverview finds Wilcox appealing
June 6, 2018
Agriculture has been the main economic driver in and around Wilcox, Ariz., which is why Riverview began to look at the area.
Coronado Farms, a branch within Riverview, is about 20 minutes south of Wilcox. Riverview bought the farm back in 2015, and now they’re asking who wouldn’t want to live there?
The primary focus at the Coronado site is heifer development. The site receives 90-day-old female cows that were born in the Riverview system, and helps raise them to become mature cows. They milk about 7,500 cows a day, enough to fill eight trucks headed to New Mexico. South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska are also sites they deliver to.
When it comes to what attracted them to the southwest, Community Relations for Riverview Moiria White says it’s the climate.
“The same thing that brings winter visitors is the same thing that brought Riverview here,” White says. “We can raise these heifers for half the cost down here. The climate is just awesome.”
Another popular attraction to the Wilcox area is the easy access to water. With a 2,000 square mile basin, the town relies solely on ground water. Since it’s unregulated, all it takes is a well to reach the water. However, the lack of regulation does create some issues.
“Unfortunately, the many hundreds of wells in the Wilcox area are all sucking from the same basin of water and eventually working together to drain that bowl,” says Laurel Lacher of Lacher Hydrological consulting. “Similar to if you were drinking a glass of water through a straw and you sucked it dry.”
Some farmers have transitioned from growing high water using crops like alfalfa to lower water using crops like grapes, Lacher says. It’s fortunate that the land is good for grapes for people like Rod Keeling, owner of Keeling Schaefer Vineyards. It uses less and brings in more than any other crop, Keeling says.
Are water regulations in Wilcox’s future? The residents have mixed feelings, but member of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors says most enjoy how things are now. She says the will of the area is to go on, take their chances, and pray for rain.