Jim Henness was a farmer in the Casa Grande Valley for more than 60 years and served on the Arizona Power Authority.
Jim Henness: Sixty years of farming in Pinal County
(The story below is built around a recorded interview)
Jim Henness grew up on a farm in Casa Grande, and always wanted to farm. So after graduating from the University of Arizona, he headed back to do just that.
“Always wanted a farm, always wanted to farm,” said Henness. “Just enjoyed the thought of it, enjoyed the idea of putting seed into the ground and watching it grow.”
And he knew the challenges that came with farming in a drier valley, including the need to augment the water supply.
“I can remember my dad and another neighbor, Tom Carlton, riding the train to Washington, DC in the late 40’s to testify for the CAP,” said Henness. “So it was always a part of our lives the idea of augmenting the water supply in the state.”
In the early 1960s, Henness became involved, pushing at the grass roots level for CAP, even heading to Washington, DC to testify, primarily from a power perspective.
“In Arizona we think in terms of water as power, power being electricity, and the electricity as water,” Henness said. “And most of my time was spent from a testifying stand point on the electrical side because it was the dams on the Colorado River, in this case Hoover Dam, which would assume a very substantial role of paying for this thing through power sales revenues.”
The payoff was immense for Henness and other farmers.
“It (CAP) allowed us earlier on to farm our farms instead of having to lay out large blocks of it. That was pretty neat, frankly,” said Henness. “The CAP water, when it started to flow into the valley, it made quite a difference.”