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Farmland Across Utah Is Being Developed, Here's A Reason Why

What once was a hay field in Logan, is now being developed into a housing complex.

As Utah continues to be one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, residential neighborhoods are being built throughout the state on what used to be farmland.

“I think the only place that you may not is if you get over into Millard County, Beaver County, some of these very rural counties not as much," said Ryan Larsen.

Ryan Larsen is an extension farm management specialist with Utah State University. He said it can be hard for people to watch farmland be developed, but that a lot of farmers don’t feel like they have a choice but to sell agricultural land to developers. 

“Once you lose it, it's not it's not going to be turned back into farmland,” said Larsen.

Ross Ford, the Executive Vice President of the Utah Home Builders Association said the reason why farmers feel selling is the only option comes down to property tax. 

“It's taxed according to its highest and best use. So the problem is, is we end up with the property, that is right now farm property," said Ford. "But, the county comes in, assesses it, and charges taxes on it based on a value as if it were already being used as residential property or possibly even commercial property.”

“As an economist, we say you should put the land to its best value use," said Larsen. "And unfortunately, for some of these people, their best-valued use is to develop it into residential, which is a little sad for on the agricultural side.”

These new taxes put a strain on the farmer Ford said because the rate they are paying is not reflective of the value they can get from agricultural land. This leads them to explore other options for profit. 

“When you bring in developments and residential demand, we don't look at it from an agricultural perspective anymore,” said Larsen.