A colleague notes an interesting bit of business in Dan Boyd’s story in this morning’s newspaper about the state of New Mexico’s “closing fund”, a state government goody bag to help fund economic development:
The most recent project to be allocated closing fund dollars is the expansion of a Southwest Cheese Co. factory in Clovis.
My book-in-the-making includes a riff on “burgers and pizza cheese,” because a significant fraction of the water we use for agriculture in the western United States goes to alfalfa and other forage for animals, and a significant fraction of that goes to dairies, and a significant fraction of that goes to the production of pizza cheese. Per capita U.S. consumption of Mozarella (mmm, pizza) has increased ten-fold since 1970 to 11 pounds per year. In the early 2000s Mozarella caught up with perennial favorite cheddar. For a few years it was neck-and-neck, but Mozarella ended the clear winner.
So when we as a state fund an eastern New Mexico cheese plant as a tool of economic development, we are funding the topmost rung of a ladder that is based on farmland devoted to alfalfa and other yummy cow food. It’s the alfalfa->dairy->pizza cheese supply chain.