Ogallala Aquifer depletion & pork plant
Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

Water crisis looms in Oklahoma panhandle as pork processing booms

A pork processing plant has revitalized Guymon’s economy but has accelerated the depletion of the region’s vital groundwater supply.

Ben Felder reports for Investigate Midwest.


In short:

  • Seaboard Foods' pork processing plant has markedly increased groundwater depletion in the Oklahoma panhandle, exacerbating an already declining water supply.
  • Weak state water laws and lack of enforcement have allowed unchecked water use, creating a looming crisis for local agriculture and residents.
  • Guymon officials are concerned about the sustainability of water resources, with new wells needed to support continued economic activity.

Key quote:

“Seaboard takes a lot of water, but if we didn’t have the feedstuff to feed the million-plus pigs, Seaboard would not be there and Guymon would dry up and blow away, as with the rest of the panhandle.”

— Oklahoma senator, Casey Murdock

Why this matters:

The depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer threatens both the economic stability and future viability of agriculture in the region, impacting food production and local livelihoods. Read more: As hog farms grow in size and number, so do Iowa water problems.

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