Utah Farmers And Ranchers Gather To Discuss Pressing Issues
Farmers and ranchers spend most of their day in the fields and with their animals. When it comes to issues and policies that impact the agricultural industry, they don’t have much time to voice their concerns. In November, things slow down just enough for farmers and ranchers to gather at the annual Utah Farm Bureau convention.
The Utah Farm Bureau considers itself the voice of Utah agriculture. According to Sterling Brown, the vice president of public policy, this is where several hundred farmers and ranchers get together to discuss the issues that challenge the future of their family businesses.
“It’s got to be one of the more important Utah agriculture meetings of the year,” Brown said. “Farmers and ranchers live busy lives producing food, fiber for not only Utahns but throughout the country and the world is a stressful, busy business.”
Out of the 18,000 farmers and ranchers in Utah, public lands and water use were the two topics that the groups decided will impact Utah agriculture the most.
“As you might imagine with Utah being a dominantly federally public land state and with the number one agriculture sector in Utah being livestock, the vast majority of Utah’s livestock spends the time on public land,” Brown said. “A fair amount of our discussion at the convention was public land issue related and ensuring that Utah’s livestock has access and rights to properly graze those forages on public lands.”
Brown said Utah is the second driest state in the nation. While most of the water is used by the natural environment, most of the water diverted from rivers and lakes is used for agricultural purposes. He said working with farmers and ranchers to conserve natural resources is vital in moving forward with state and federal agencies.
Farmers and ranchers make up one percent of Utah’s population and only one and a half percent of our country’s population. Brown said this small number of people have an impact of the rest of the state and the country.
“These men and women that are farmers and ranchers, they’re experts not only in land management, but in water management, taxes, transportation the list goes on of the expertise they must have to be sustainable,” Brown said. “The opposition continues to mount against today’s modern day farmer and rancher.”
Brown said the Utah Farm Bureau works primarily with farmers and ranchers, but eventually the issues they face will impact consumers later on.