Farmer Miguel Maciel explains an irrigation system in northern Mexico.
Farmer Miguel Maciel explains an irrigation system in northern Mexico. - 


Doug Krizner: The U.S. and Mexico have been fighting for more than a century over water along their border. Today, a court a Canadian will offer a neutral venue for the latest tussle. Farmers in South Texas claim Mexico hogged water during a drought in the 1990's. But this case has an odd twist: the U.S. State Department is siding with Mexico. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: For nearly a decade, Mexico restricted water from entering the arid Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Farmers in that region say that decimated crops and cost the Texas economy $1 billion.

The farmers claim Mexico violated water provisions in NAFTA, the free trade agreement.
Their case has been weakened, however, because the U.S. government filed a brief siding with Mexico.

Nancie Marzulla, an attorney for the South Texas farmers, says she was blindsided by the move.

Nancie Marzulla: Shocked. Absolutely shocked.

Marzulla felt betrayed that her own government would side with a foreign nation.

Marzulla: It was a very short world view to allow our nation's water rights to be taken by another country.

So why did the U.S. back Mexico? Because the State Department worries a win by the farmers would expose the U.S. to similar lawsuits from Canada and Mexico. Recently, Canadian cattle ranchers filed a suit against the U.S.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.