The Utah Farm Bureau has released its list of ‘Issues to Watch For in 2022’ upon returning from the national agricultural convention for the American Farm Bureau Federation and at the start of the 2022 Utah general legislative session.
Though not exhaustive in scope, the list is based off the Farm Bureau’s policy book, adopted at its recent convention in November. The policy book will guide the general farm and ranch organization’s public policy actions throughout the upcoming year – including the current legislative session.
“It is important to note the policies advocated and defended by the Utah Farm Bureau come from the grassroots level, from actual farmers and ranchers on the ground and in the trenches – not simply from the ideas of one leader or board,” said Ron Gibson, a dairy farmer from Weber County and President of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation. “These policies are developed through debate and deliberation in response to issues felt on the farms of the smallest towns as well as in the families of the largest cities in Utah.”
1. Water Issues
This is expected to be one of the biggest years in recent memory related to water issues and project funding. Funding for several projects will be coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with limits on how these funds can be used for projects relating to clean drinking water to sewer projects. There will also be discussion of plans prioritized by the Water Optimization Task Force, called the “Cultivating Agriculture Water Resilience in Utah” plan. These plans will include items such as farm irrigation system conversions, water metering, outreach & education on water use, and basin-specific water resiliency plans. Water legislation will be in reaction to the historic drought of this past year, and looking to see how water systems can be more resilient and how agriculture can be more efficient with water, and then prioritizing investment in plans to ensure agriculture’s viability into the future.
2. Veterinary School at Utah State University
Utah State University (USU) is asking to create a four-year veterinary program on its campus in Logan. Currently USU has a 2×2 program with Washington State University, where students attend the first two years of vet school in Logan and finish the last two at Washington State. A veterinary school in Utah would create jobs, attract millions of dollars in research funding and help keep local students in Utah, increasing the availability of large animal veterinarians for Utah’s farmers and ranchers. Studies show that for every $20 invested in a veterinary school, $48 are returned to the local economy through research grants. Utah currently has 15% fewer veterinarians per capita than the national average, with our growing state there is an increasing demand for veterinarians. A vet school at USU will be huge benefit to Utah’s farming and ranching community.
3. Agriculture Infrastructure
The recent COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of and need for additional processing for agricultural products. The Utah Department of Agriculture & Food (UDAF) is requesting $3 million to create a grant program designed to help expand exiting or establish new processing facilities in Utah. Utah Farm Bureau believes it is critical to invest in processing infrastructure that will provide the opportunity for Utah producers to process their products locally and for Utah consumers to purchase those products and support local agriculture.
As Utah Farm Bureau begins this new calendar year with the state legislative session and then follows-up with the many planting, nurturing and harvesting decisions of the growing season, its public policy process will lead the way in helping government and community leaders understand the needs of a successful agriculture industry and how to support it.
Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 103rd Convention recently adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2022. Key topics ranged from milk pricing and beef market transparency to urban agriculture.
Long-standing frustration over imbalances in the meat industry led to calls for greater transparency in livestock markets.
As farmers’ labor struggles continue, delegates approved additional policies that build on existing AFBF policies regarding the need for employee stabilization and reforms to the guestworker program.
Farmers voted to bring more transparency to the federal milk pricing system. Several changes to policy include support for more a more consistent format for milk checks and a review and audit of the producer price differential on milk.
As farmers and ranchers continue to increase their reliance on digital technologies, delegates voted to support raising the standard for federal broadband projects to be at least 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads.
Recognizing the growth of urban agriculture and importance of ensuring the success of all forms of agriculture, delegates voted to create new policy to support its continuation and acknowledge its economic contributions.
About the Utah Farm Bureau
The Utah Farm Bureau is the largest general farm and ranch organization in the state with more than 34,000 member families. Its mission is to inspire all Utah families to connect, succeed and grow through the miracle of agriculture. It strives to bring value to every citizen and community through love of God, family, country, and the land through political action, educational and informational means. www.utahfarmbureau.org.