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Utah Farmers And Ranchers Are Starting To Feel Impacts Of Trade Disputes

Small and medium size family farms are starting to feel the pinch from the trade dispute.

It’s widely known that large agriculture producers of pork and soybeans are struggling because of overseas tariffs. Producers of smaller operations in Utah are also struggling.

Utah farmers and ranchers who produce beef, dairy, fruit, hay and other products met with advocacy groups and lawmakers last week to discuss options to improve markets for local producers.

“Utah and US farmers can compete with anyone in the world if we have a level playing field. These retaliatory tariffs right now are not creating a level playing field for us,” said Jack Wilbur, the public information officer for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Wilbur said small and medium-sized family farms are starting to feel the pinch from the trade dispute.

“We run a real risk of losing some of these farms,” Wilbur said. “These are not the kinds of businesses that are able to restart a later date or have new people come in a restart them because land is so valuable in our state. If a farm goes out of business, typically that land gets used for another purpose and it’s hard to find new land that is good quality for growing some of our crops and the animal operations that we have here.”

Groups like the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the USDA are always working on opening new markets, but Wilbur said right now that task has become a priority.

“It takes a very short time for these tariffs to cause problems and disrupt an industry,” Wilbur said. “It takes a fairly long time to create new trade deals and open up new markets. We’re just going to do everything we can to help promote emerging markets and find new and better uses for products here at home and try to keep our people in business.”

Wilbur said some progress is being made on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and creating new markets in Asia.