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Utah seeks to preserve farmland from demands of development

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Jon Meikle, who has farmed in Cache Valley for his entire life, says he estimates that he loses as much as 50 acres of farmland to lease each year. Meikle says it’s painful to “see a productive piece of ag land go under.”

 

Urban encroachment of farmland is something that the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has become increasingly concerned about. State agriculture commissioner Craig Buttars says the state is seeing a large need for housing, and unfortunately, the land has to come from somewhere.

 

A report by Utah State University released last year found that since 2012, the number of farms in Utah has actually increased by 2.1%. However the size of the farms shrunk by 3.7% (from 609 acres in 2012 to 587 acres in 2020).

 

State agriculture officials have recently been prioritizing farmland, but with the rise in land values, small family farms do get pushed out. Meikle says farmland has become a commodity for people to get rich. He says he’s worried it may be too late to save important farmlands, as development continues to eat it up.

Tyler Hewitt is the web/social media assistant at UPR. He writes stories every day, updates the website and manages the station's Twitter and Facebook pages. Tyler is a senior at Utah State University and is studying public relations, marketing, and psychology. He loves to write, listen to music, play video games, play tennis and hang out with his fiancé and cat, Juno. He is a great plant dad and recently started collecting vinyl records!