Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, has pledged continued commitment to agriculture and expressed frustration regarding the lingering Mexican water debt, and its adverse impact on Rio Grande Valley producers.

She made her remarks to delegates at the Texas Farm Bureau's 69th annual meeting in Corpus Christi,

“We have seen our farms dry up because Mexico has not kept their commitment on the water treaty. The U.S. has always kept our part of the treaty and the Mexicans have failed time after time after time to let the water flow from the Rio Grande into our side which they are required to do,” said Hutchison.

Mexico has consistently refused to abide by the 1944 treaty that outlines the rules for water use from the river that separates Texas from Mexico.

The senator said Mexico had not been honest about the situation.

“At first they said they didn't have the water to pay the debt,” she said. “Then, sadly enough, we got the satellite photos that showed in the state of Chihuahua beautiful irrigated farms — green, green farms and big reservoirs with our water and you saw clearly on the other side of the Rio Grande, on the west side, dryness, brown farms that had dried up.

“So you could see clearly that the water was in Mexico and it was being held by the state of Chihuahua. So it is time for us to step up to the plate.”

Hutchison acknowledged that the $10 million in emergency grants she had insisted on in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill for farmers was merely a “band aid,” to supply money for planting next year's crops.

The answer, she said, is to let farmers farm, and ensure that the water is there to do it. “I think we've got to take some very strong steps.

“I will be talking to the White House and to our State Department about either having sanctions against Chihuahuan agricultural products coming into the U.S. because clearly they have been holding our water illegally. Or we've got to re-examine the treaty itself.

“We have got to make sure that we have parity and we cannot just sit there and let our farmers bear the brunt for a failed foreign policy,” she said.

Hutchison has appeared at every TFB annual meeting since she began her political career as Texas state treasurer.