Section 1

Promote Greenbelt Designation as a Way for Farmers to Save on Property Taxes, by Valuing Their Land Based on Agricultural Production Rather than Market Value

Who can implement this: State, county, and city lawmakers; advocacy organizations; and agricultural producers

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The Utah Farmland Assessment Act allows Utah farmers and ranchers to have their agricultural property assessed and taxed based on its capability for productivity instead of real-estate market values. [1]

The Utah State Tax Commission works with other committees and Utah State University to establish values for productivity that are applied statewide, setting terms of value per acre for different land classifications. Each qualifying parcel of property is classified upon application according to its existing features and the kind of agriculture being cultivated on it. This classification process gives the land a new value to be assessed and taxed on.

Greenbelt designation is meant to more accurately reflect the true value of agricultural land and operations and lower tax rates to dissuade landowners from selling agricultural land to residential developers. As a result, greenbelt designation could improve both the economic viability of farming operations and the preservation of existing farmlands in Utah County.

Greenbelt areas are also part of the county’s heritage and can make communities more desirable and livable. These areas provide green, open spaces, which could improve air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Greenbelt applications must be obtained from the Utah County Farmland Assessor. In order to currently qualify for greenbelt designation, a parcel of land must: 

  1. Be at least five contiguous acres,
  2. Have been actively devoted to agricultural use for at least two years,
  3. Be managed in a way that there is expectation of profit,
  4. Meet average annual production requirements (at least 50% of the county average for production per acre).

Applications must be submitted by May 1st of the tax year. The resulting assessment is valid unless the landowner fills out another application withdrawing from the greenbelt designation.

State and local lawmakers should work with farm organizations to better understand what is expected of a landowner applying for greenbelt designation and to explore ways to streamline the application process.


  • The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food should better inform farmers and ranchers on the benefits of greenbelt property value designation. Though the greenbelt system has significant benefits, landowners must be aware of the program and must individually apply for greenbelt designation, meaning some may miss the opportunity if they do not know it exists.
  • It is recommended that state and county legislators seek to expand the Urban Farming Assessment Act. This act should be expanded so that it specifically applies to Utah County, as it is to Salt Lake County. Expanding the act might also allow for more unconventional forms of agriculture, possibly including indoor agriculture.
  • Producers on smaller lots should utilize the Urban Farming Assessment Act where applicable. The act allows active agriculturally producing parcels of land between 2–4.99 acres in size to be taxed similarly to greenbelt-qualified properties, lowering property taxes from market rate to more reasonable costs.


The Utah Farmland Assessment Act was created to specifically assist farmers and ranchers preserve their agricultural lands near expanding urban areas across the state. Individual county assessors are responsible for assessing land within their jurisdiction, and the Utah County Assessor’s Office has a dedicated farmland assessor who oversees the countywide implementation of the Utah Farmland Assessment Act.

Support Transitioning to Specialty Crops and Niche Products with High Returns where Feasible, and Utilize Value-Added Processing Methods

Who can implement this: State and county lawmakers, and agricultural producers

Utah County has an ideal microclimate for many specialty crops and niche products that are in high demand. Utah growers are already successfully producing and selling specialty crops such as tart and sweet cherries, pears, apples, raspberries, peaches, tree nuts, and vegetables. Shifting from common crops like hay and alfalfa to other specialty crops could potentially allow growers to sell their yields at higher prices, improving farm revenues. High-value specialty crops that are both viable and relatively undergrown in Utah County include apricots, quinoa, lavender, pine nuts, and some herbs and vegetables.

Growers can also achieve higher revenues through value-added processing. Value-added processing refers to the on-site transformation of raw agricultural products into consumer-ready food products. Other potential ways of adding value to agricultural products involve utilizing each farmer’s unique skillset and resources to implement strategies related to processing, packaging, or marketing. Even small farms can significantly increase their revenues through value-added processing by creating unique (and more valuable) combinations of products and by-products.[1]


A major aspect of this strategy is education-based, adding to and supplementing farmers’ existing knowledge about which specialty crops grow well in Utah, which specialty products can be processed from their raw agricultural products, which products are in local market demand, and how to change farming practices if they began to grow specialty crops in place of more common crops

Specific programs can potentially be implemented in Utah County to promote specialty-crop production or to encourage farmers to explore value-added processing as a means to introduce unique products to the local economy while increasing their own revenues.

  • Utah State University should continue to work on outreach programs that explain how specialty crops and value-added processing can increase farmer’s’ agricultural revenues and add value to the local economy. In addition, the university should provide education on incentives and funding available to help farmers capitalize on these opportunities.
  •  It is recommended that the county work with state and national farm organizations to provide incentives and funding for farmers who are exploring the viability of specialty crops or new ways to process products. Such organizations include the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, United States Department of Agriculture, Utah Farm Bureau, etc.
  • Farmers and ranchers can look into potential market niches in their local economies and evaluate whether specialty products and additional processes could be viable with their operations.
  • If viable, individual farms should create strategies and secure funding to pursue specific forms of value-added agriculture, using careful planning to ensure maximum profits and minimum costs.
  • The Utah Department of Agriculture should work with state legislators and farmers to develop a state-run processing facility/commercial agriculture kitchen to help farmers explore developing different kinds of agriculture products.


Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, Utah, is one of the most successful examples of specialty crop growing, value-added processing, and agritourism in Utah. The Rowley family met the demands of a lucrative niche market in the agricultural economy by producing specialty crops, primarily cherries and apples. The Rowleys furthered their unique role in the local economy by utilizing value-added processing to create specialty products ranging from dried cherries to fresh ice cream.[2]

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food runs the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This program awards money to projects that work solely to enhance the competitiveness of U.S.-grown specialty crops, which benefits specialty crop growers across the state and nation. The Utah Department of Agriculture is particularly interested in increasing the overall viability of specialty crops in Utah and in understanding where in Utah the climate and growing conditions could be conducive for growing them. Funds are available to state agencies, organizations, and universities.[3]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants program helps farmers adopt value-added activities related to processing and marketing by matching the funds of new and established farmers.[4] These grants range in size up to $250,000 and can serve as a crucial resource for smaller producers looking to expand their agricultural operations by filling a more unique, specialized need for products in their communities.

Utah State University’s Food Quality and Entrepreneurship program, created by the school’s food product entrepreneurial specialist, provides valuable resources to producers looking to create and market new products.[5] Resources range from informational materials to workshops and classes that all aim to remove barriers to the food industry. The program assists farmers with every step of creating value-added products, allowing them to develop their products in an incubator kitchen, providing expertise about marketing, and making information about regulation and certification more accessible.[6] Individual entrepreneurs can schedule the program’s test kitchen at Community Action in Provo.[7]

Promote and Implement Practices that Reduce Operational Costs and Increase Revenue

Who can implement this: Governmental organizations, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers

Farmers can increase revenues by exploring new technologies. New and different practices in the production, upkeep, and harvesting of crops could reduce the costs of operating a farm.[1]

Farmers and ranchers may also be able to increase revenue by exploring products for niche markets. Farmers could work with other farmers, both local and nationwide, to develop new processes and improve existing products in order to create new and more valuable products. Agricultural producers could also team up with other small-scale farmers and ranchers to increase their purchasing and marketing power.


  • Utah State University should continue to look for ways to expand existing resources to help support farmers reduce operational costs and more efficiently produce and process agricultural exports.
  • Farmers and ranchers should form partnerships and work closely with other local and nationwide agricultural producers to combine buying and selling power and explore ways to more efficiently market, ship, and otherwise process their products. This combined power allows for local farmers and ranchers to explore new products, marketing methods, and other ways to improve revenues and the overall quality and reach of their operations.


The Rowleys of Rowley’s Red Barn pioneered new ways of drying cherries by working with agricultural researchers at the University of California Davis and producers from Michigan and Oregon.[2] Rowley’s Red Barn is now working with Michigan’s Cherry Central, combining their buying and selling powers to become leading cherry producers in the United States.

Nutri-Mulch, of the Moroni Feed Company, is a natural compost created with the used turkey bedding of five million turkeys.[3] This byproduct is processed to become a weed-free compost that releases nutrients slowly and improves plant-root structure, water-drainage, and air penetration.

Sheep ranchers Logan and Albert Wilde of Croydon, Utah, created fertilizer pellets from the waste produced by wool production. This innovation provided an extra source of revenue for the wool operation, improved the profitability of the ranch, and reduced the amount of wool that was thrown away.[4]

McMullin Orchards partnered with Utah County Extension to use specialty crop grants offered through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The funds were spent to begin using cherry pits as part of soils and fertilizers allowing producers to make use of an underutilized by-product of cherry processing.[5]

Help Farmers Develop Marketing Plans and Processes to Improve Revenue and Ensure that Their Products Are Sold

Who can implement this: Communities, universities, governmental organizations, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers

Marketing is a key aspect of agricultural production that is often overlooked. Marketing plans for farmers need to be substantial and holistic. Farmers and ranchers may benefit by expanding their knowledge of product marketing and not relying wholly on farmers markets or any one avenue for product sales. Using varied distribution channels may help farmers and ranchers better market their products and see increased revenue. To be successful, however, these marketing and selling methods require the support of other producers as well as the overall community.


  • Universities and farm organizations should engage agricultural producers to support their marketing efforts. Together, they should explore different avenues of delivering agricultural products to consumers, taking into consideration the unique conditions of different communities.
  • Utah County and its cities should partner with farms to improve the farms’ product branding and marketing plans. Such improvements could give the farms more exposure and help elevate the prestige of the city and county as a farming community. Governmental newsletter lists and communication networks could be used to inform residents about the farms and products.
  • Utah’s Own is an organization that provides farmers a unique avenue for advertising products and getting local crops on more store shelves. Utah’s Own should continue reaching out to farmers and help raise public awareness about agricultural products that can be bought locally.


Rural Development of the USDA administers Rural Business Development Grants that can be used to help producers market products, package them in new ways, and develop new product lines.[1]

Utah State University Extension hosts seminars and classes that educate farmers, ranchers, and other business owners about issues crucial to owning a small business. These topics range from problem solving in entrepreneurship to developing marketing plans.[2]

Explore a Variety of Food Distribution Systems to Help Local Food Thrive in Utah County

Who can implement this: State and county lawmakers, communities, governmental organizations, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers

A lack of efficient, accessible food distribution systems can be a barrier for farmers wanting to distribute their food products locally. More effective food distribution systems will improve the sale of farm products, better enabling farmers to connect to consumers. Many crops, such as vegetables, may produce a greater return than current crops, but without processing facilities in Utah or local distribution systems, farmers are unlikely to grow these crops. Local food systems provide the fresh, in-season products that Utah residents increasingly want and desire. Having strong local systems also improves the resiliency of Utah’s food distribution, enabling Utah residents to buy more Utah products and rely less on importing food from places like California and Mexico.

  • Local food systems include the following options:
  • Food hubs and co-ops
  • Farmers markets
  • On-site farm stands (or pick-your-own farms)
  • Community supported agriculture (in which consumers buy a share of a local farm’s projected harvest)
  • Traditional grocery stores, schools, and restaurants

Food hubs are local nodes run by an organization that aims to connect communities and consumers to local food. They give agricultural producers a place to sell their products and strengthen the economic and social relationships of the producers and their surrounding communities. These hubs and co-operatives allow farmers and ranchers to capture profits that typically go to grocery stores in traditional food distribution systems, which increases local producers’ revenues and often decreases the prices of fresh, local products. Food hubs help actively manage the aggregation and distribution of products and often provide farmers and ranchers with technical and marketing assistance to help them create and sell their goods.[1]

A farmers market is a public, recurring event where farmers or their representatives gather together to sell their food and products to consumers.[2] Farmers markets facilitate personal connections that mutually benefit local farmers, shoppers, and communities. These markets, for instance, allow producers to sell unique products that cannot be found in grocery stores, and they help the community learn about healthy eating and where local products are grown. As a community experience, farmers markets are places where people can meet their neighbors, friends, and farmers in an environment that is friendly, educational, and enriching.

Farm stands are permanent or temporary structures, usually operated at specific times of the year, where farmers display and sell agricultural goods.[3] Successful farm stands are commonly located in places in areas of frequent vehicle traffic where potential customers can easily see farm products and purchase them. These venues offer the community increased access to local foods and allow farmers a flexible option for selling their products. Pick-your-own farms allow consumers to go into farmers’ fields and harvest crops themselves.[4] These farms are marketing channels for those consumers who like to select and purchase fresher, higher-quality, vine-ripened produce at lower prices. Farmers likewise benefit from reduced needs for harvesting and labor, lower equipment costs, and opportunities for larger transactions per customer. Good crop types for this type of operation include berries, tree fruit, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.[5]

In community supported agriculture, growers and consumers support one another and share the risks and benefits of food production.[6] Typically, members or "shareholders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares of the farm's harvest throughout the growing season and gain the satisfaction that comes with connecting to the land and participating directly in food production.

Continuing to utilize marketing strategies through Utah’s Own is important in helping Utahns obtain the products they want.[7] Utah’s Own provides information about where people can purchase locally grown products, which helps support and strengthen the county’s agricultural industry. Promoting the sale of local products also positively affects Utah’s economy, as money spent in Utah stays in the local economy, benefiting our small businesses.

Though new food-distribution systems can significantly increase the accessibility of farm-grown produce in Utah County, improving older systems can be an equally effective and viable strategy for some communities. Existing traditional food distribution systems should be modified and improved to better accommodate local farmers and ranchers. By sourcing their food from local farmers and ranchers, grocers, restaurants, and schools can offer healthier and fresher produce and meals while passively educating their communities about local foods. Restaurants and neighborhood grocers should advertise when they use or sell local agricultural products to draw additional customers while simultaneously supporting local producers.


Food Hubs and Co-ops

  • Utah County needs to facilitate the creation of one or more co-ops or food hubs in the county. Depending on the support from the community, the county should provide resources and assistance to advance the process. The Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network has an informative guide about how to start a food hub.[8] The guide contains useful checklists of tasks for each step in creating a food hub.

Farmers Markets

  • Community leaders should improve the marketing of their farmers markets to increase awareness, interest, and demand at these events. Doing so will increase exposure and sales for farmers.
  • Utah County should work with its cities to better understand the needs of farmers market throughout the county and work with communities to create new farmers markets if needed. The University of California’s Small Farm Program has a detailed step-by-step guide to starting a new farmers market in a community.[9]

On-Site Farm Stands and Pick-Your-Own Farms

  • Farmers whose crops and operations are compatible with a pick-your-own strategy should research if such an approach would be beneficial to them. The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture has a good guide to help farmers who are thinking of establishing a pick-your-own operation.[10] This guide lists common pick-your-own crops and outlines strategies to identify good business practices and potential risks.

Community Supported Agriculture

  • Farmers should investigate if community-supported agricultural production is a viable and beneficial option for them. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension has a resource guide with tips for farmers interested in starting a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.[11]

Traditional Food Distribution Systems

  • Whenever possible, grocery stores, schools, restaurants, and other existing food-distribution networks should work with local producers (abiding by all necessary regulations) to use and sell local food. Private organizations should partner with many local producers to establish systems that better link businesses and schools to existing sources of local food.


The Provo Farmers Market is a particularly successful local farmers market in Utah County. The market is held weekly in Provo’s Pioneer Park and features activities, local food, artists, and other vendors. The market provides local residents an opportunity to easily access local food while also serving as a lively community hub during the warmer months. Though the market is immensely popular, it only runs from June to October, so outside that timeframe, local food must be distributed through other avenues.[12]

Utah also has a community supported agriculture (CSA) program dedicated to connecting farms across the state to their local communities. Community members can purchase a share of a local farmer’s produce, often at below market price.[13] CSA Utah already partners with many growers in Utah County, though there is always room for expansion. The organization’s website lists places where people can purchase shares from local farmers and growers.[14]

Utah has only two co-ops, both located in the Salt Lake Valley. The Community Co-Op is located in Salt Lake City and features a direct-to-door delivery service, allowing community members to receive fresh, local produce without having to leave their houses. The Community Co-Op prides itself on averaging prices that are 20% to 50% lower than what is found in most grocery stores.[15] The Utah Co-Op is located in Murray and also sells local produce at lower prices than major grocery stores. Though most co-ops require a membership, membership in the Utah Co-Op is free for Utah residents.[16]

Utah's Own program was established to create a consumer culture that allows customers to choose Utah products at retail stores, restaurants, and everywhere else consumers shop. When Utah consumers purchase locally produced or grown products, our economy grows; $1.00 spent on a Utah product results in $4.00– $6.00 being added to the economy. In addition, purchasing local products enhances the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of those products.[17]

Utah's Own has a comprehensive website where consumers can search for local farms and ranches and find information about specific farms and where to purchase local goods. Farmers can join Utah’s Own at no cost. "Members enjoy the benefits of business-to-business networking and resourceful training via statewide chapters. Chapter leaders, selected from current membership, serve across the state and offer a valuable resource to current and potential business owners. . . . In addition, all members are encouraged to use the trademarked Utah’s Own brand in their local marketing efforts, as well as participate in the Utah’s Own events offered throughout the year.”[18]

Promote Agritourism

Who can implement this: State and county lawmakers, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers

Agritourism is any activity that allows the public to view or experience agriculture for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes. Agritourism includes, but is not limited to, agricultural activities for families, ranching activities, and historic, cultural, or natural attractions. Agritourism benefits farm owners by exposing their farms to the community and by providing a source of additional income (which can increase the economic viability of small farms). As they participate in unique, hands-on farming experiences, agritourists may learn to see food differently and develop a desire to protect local farms. Though agritourism may not be viable for all farming operations, it has been valuable and successful for several farms in Utah County.


  • It is recommended that Utah County’s agricultural producers encourage state and county lawmakers to create county-specific codes and policies that promote and incentivize agritourism. These codes would establish the guidelines and parameters of agritourism and make it a better-known and viable source of income for farmers and ranchers.
  • Governmental and non-profit farming organizations should ensure that farmers and ranchers have knowledge about the benefits of agritourism and how to establish an agritourism program on their property. These organizations should streamline the process of establishing and conducting agritourism and make agritourism law more understandable and accessible. Though putting up a liability notice for visitors is the only step farmers are strictly required to take before beginning an agritourism business, they should consider several other matters in order to maximize the possibility that their ventures will succeed:
    • Farmers and ranchers must determine what activities they want to have available on the farm, what they want to sell, and the staffing needs for these services and products. They can look at other successful agritourism farms in their region to determine what has been successful in the past and what niche market they can accommodate.
    • Agricultural producers must create a business plan based on the material and staffing needs of the agritourism operation. Pricing for both admission and products must also be determined. Local community colleges or business centers often assist entrepreneurs looking to create business plans
    • Agritourism businesses must ensure that they comply with local regulations and the health department and provide needs like parking and ADA accessibility. These businesses must also ensure they are covered by liability insurance.
    • Farmers and ranchers must establish and implement a marketing plan to attract agritourists. These marketing plans can range in complexity and are crucial to the success of an agritourism business.[1]


Rowley’s Red Barn is one of the state’s most successful agritourism operations. The farm has a thriving school-tour system and hosts events for visitors year-round. The farm operates its own store and ice cream parlor that serves ice cream, cider slushes, shakes, and a variety of fountain sodas. Most small-scale producers may not be able to create such a large agritourism business, but Rowley’s Red Barn is a prime example of how to identify a specific agritourism niche and expand offerings and services to meet the demands of that niche.

The Petersen Family Farm in South Jordan holds a food truck event every Friday night from April through October.[2] This event brings in a variety of food trucks and helps to expose people to farm products in a unique and enjoyable setting.

Weber County has a specific code that governs agritourism uses and clearly explains how farmers and ranchers can utilize agritourism on their farms.[3] The code explicitly outlines agritourism activities and makes their limitations and benefits understandable.

The University of California Davis has a Small Farm Program that focuses on agritourism. Through resources such as classes and projects, the program brings together community members, students, and local farms, to explore different forms of agritourism and analyze how the relatively new field is changing as more people begin participating in it.[4]


Develop Succession Planning, Training, and Education for Farmers and Ranchers

Who can implement this: County officials, governmental organizations, and advocacy organizations

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the average age of a farmer or rancher is 58 years old, an average that is gradually increasing.[1] [2] The average age of U.S. farm operators increased from 55.3 in 2002 to 58.3 in 2012 according to the Census of Agriculture.[3] In addition, the University of Vermont’s FarmLASTS Project estimates that 70% of the nation’s private farmland will change ownership within the next 20 years.[4] The future of farming is in question because fewer individuals are choosing farming as an occupation than before and an increasing number of young adults are pursuing careers other than farming and ranching. Proper succession planning helps ensure that people are available and ready to take over a farm’s business when its owners retire.

Succession planning is the process of formally transitioning management and ownership of an agricultural business from one generation to the next. Since individuals’ relationships and situations vary, there is no single plan that can be used by every family or business. Some examples of plans involve an outright sale of the family farm to the younger generation (or to a third party), rely primarily on passing down lands to other generations, or involve forming businesses to help make a transition possible in the future or dividing a large operation into smaller, discrete parts to support different families.

Succession planning permits a farming family to transfer management and ownership of their business in the way they want. It also encourages the family to address legal, tax, and family issues in advance (when they are best prepared), rather than being forced to deal with them quickly after the death of the farmer or rancher.[5]

Preparing farm operations for those who will take over ensures that the next generation will be able to continue Utah’s farming legacy. Many small family farms don’t have clear plans in place to guide a future transition in ownership. Not establishing clear succession plans or identifying potential candidates to take over farm operations can result in farms having no heirs, farmers being unable to retire, and agricultural land being sold for other uses.


  • Utah County, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and private organizations should offer training and outreach to educate farmers on the details and challenges of transitioning management and ownership of farmland to different generations.
  • A list of important steps for succession planning might include:[6]
  1. Defining goals and objectives: Do farmers want to pass along the entire business and its assets, or do they want to lease the land?
  2. Identifying potential successors and creating a timeline for succession
  3. Scheduling meetings with advisors (an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, exit planner, etc.) to discuss how to implement succession and to finish estate planning
  4. Creating plans for the business and for retirement
  5. Forming appropriate business entities and creating legal agreements such as an operating agreement and a buy-sell agreement
  6. Establishing a plan for training successors and transitioning ownership
  7. Communicating throughout the planning process and making revisions and adjustments as needed


The New Jersey Department of Agriculture consolidates many farm-transfer and succession-planning resources for its retiring farmers.[7]

Pennsylvania has a Preserved Farms Resource Center dedicated to succession planning. The center helps retiring farmers connect with younger generations of farmers and helps new farmers establish themselves within the farming community.[8]

Iowa’s Ag Link Program connects beginning farmers who need agricultural lands to retiring farmers who do not have heirs or successors. This program is a powerful resource for retiring farmers and allows communities to more easily maintain agricultural lands across generations.[9]

Utah State University as well as private organizations like the Farm Bureau Financial Services assist farmers in transitioning management and ownership of agricultural businesses from one generation to the next.[10]