The Texas Agriculture Commissioner is pushing congressional leaders to suspend contracts with Mexico if the country doesn't release water owed to Texas farmers and ranchers.
Mexico is required to release 1.8 million acre-feet of water every five years to the U.S. from six tributaries that feed into the Rio Grande. In exchange, the U.S. delivers water from the Colorado River to Mexico, but under the current agreement Mexico has left South Texas farmers dry, owing the state over 350,000 acre-feet of water.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is one of several people joining the fight to get the country to comply.
"The really insulting part is that Texas farmers and ranchers are having to watch Mexican produce being imported into the United States that's grown with water that should have been released to them," Staples said.
Staples said he’s pushing Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Filemon Vela to enact legislation that places more pressure on the State Department to uphold the 1944 treaty. He's also suggesting legislation that ceases the flow of the water going into water via the Colorado River.
"There are specific issues, such as the release of Colorado water, that helps Mexico. We have project where we are funding cooperative projects with Mexico. I am suggesting we should look at suspending our payments and our partnerships until Mexico fulfills its [payments and partnerships].
"If Mexico is not fulfilling its responsibilities to the United States, why is the United States funding projects with Mexico today? We need to be very aggressive in our negotiations and let Mexico know we are going to really delay or suspend other relationships that we have with Mexico unless Mexico gives us the water that we need," Staples said.
Staples said the United States needs to act as aggressively towards Mexico as the southern neighbor did towards the U.S. when the country imposed tariffs on the United States for violating a NAFTA treaty around 2009.