Section 3

Strengthen Relationships with Utah Universities to Research Agricultural Strategies, Economics, and Technologies; Model Agriculture Futures; and Promote Agricultural Education

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

Local research conducted by academics and researchers will help Utah County farmers better understand and improve agriculture in their region. The circumstances for farming are constantly changing in Utah County and across the state as urban and suburban development expands and economic markets continue to shift. Researchers at Utah State University should model a variety of agriculture scenarios to help plan for the future of farming in Utah County. They should also establish new strategies that will benefit food growers and expand the state’s agriculture industry.

Researching new agricultural technologies and ways to improve older technologies is crucial in making farming more efficient in terms of time, water, and crop yield. Continuing to research agriculture will help secure Utah’s future food supply and economic growth, especially as it offers specific suggestions for what strategies and tools will best benefit local agriculture. In addition to local universities, private-sector incentives will be important resources in helping Utah develop advancements to agricultural technology and strategies.

Some agricultural technologies focus on increasing crop yields and exploring new ways to produce food. For example, two recent and widely renowned agricultural technologies are vertical farming and aquaponics. Utah County farmers may be unaware of some of these innovations and their benefits to crop yield and efficiency and should be educated about these and other technological advancements in real-world situations.

Since discoveries made in a lab are not readily available to farmers, outreach is an important element of this strategy. Farmers need to be informed of the latest agricultural strategies and production methods so they can better adopt and use such innovations. Increasing farmers’ knowledge on these topics could result in higher yields, less risk, and greater profitability.


  • Utah State University has the academic infrastructure and resources to implement this strategy. The university should enhance its partnerships with Utah County agricultural producers so that it can research agriculture and strengthen communication between the school and farmers. Utah State University should also create a scope of needs to find out how to achieve this goal and to look for ways to fund research. Research should be focused on topics that will most benefit Utah agriculture.
  • Utah County universities (particularly Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University) should continue to contribute to agricultural research. An educational partnership between Utah State University and the universities in Utah County is necessary to holistically explore food-production strategies and the future of agriculture in the county.
  • Universities should do the following:
    • Determine a scope of needs and goals to determine a short-term focus for strategy research, modeling, and/or education.
    • Determine the amount of funding needed for research and identify funding sources.
    • Decide which universities and agricultural producers will be involved, and outline their roles in the research process.
    • Maintain and expand partnerships between universities and agricultural producers, and begin more targeted agriculture research, modeling, and education efforts.


Utah State University has some of the most varied and robust agricultural education programs in the country. It offers extensive information on many agricultural topics, ranging from agricultural education to pest management.[1] The university’s Agricultural Experiment Station is dedicated to researching agriculture and improving the availability and quality of natural resources for all Utah residents, and the College of Agricultural and Applied Sciences has departments dedicated to the study of applied economics in Utah’s rural areas, animal and veterinary sciences, plants and soils, sciences and technology, environmental planning, and how to help the future of agriculture in Utah County.[2]

Utah State University is the state’s leading institution in agricultural experimentation and technology research.[3] Committed to ensuring that the United States produces a self-sufficient food supply, the university investigates new technologies and operates labs that research “food safety and processing, plant and animal genetics, and economic and social forces that shape families and communities.”[4]

Educate Utah Children About Agriculture

Who can implement this: State, county, and city officials; communities; advocacy organizations, agricultural producers; and school districts

The best way to ensure that agriculture will be valued by future generations is to connect children with farms in ways that will leave a lasting impression. Through creating unique educational agricultural experiences, which are not currently covered by the state’s curriculum, future generations will be educated about local food and about the food-production process. These experiences will help children understand where their food comes from while also opening up communication among farmers, teachers, and community members and promoting agriculture as a possible career path.

In the short term, individual communities and schools should create programs that provide children with hands-on farming experiences. Ideally, these small-scale efforts will eventually result in changes to the statewide curriculum, establishing agriculture as a fundamental part of Utahns’ education.


  • Communities and school boards should create and promote programs that connect schools to farms. Additionally, schools and local farms should coordinate to establish these opportunities under existing programs, especially if expanded or made more accessible.
  • School districts should evaluate and revise existing curriculum to make agricultural education a priority.
  • It is recommended that educators and farmers work together to advocate for agricultural education becoming a bigger part of school curricula. Outreach should be made to local lawmakers as well as statewide organizations.
  • Policymakers, educators, and farmers need to work together to fill in gaps in agricultural education; they should establish new programs for students at every grade level.
  • Zoning laws could be modified to allow small livestock animals, like chickens and 4–H animals, to be raised on school property as part of agricultural education programs.


The Utah County Farm Bureau and Utah State University Extension hosts Farm Field Days every year, which allows elementary-school students to visit local farms and directly experience local agricultural. Farm Field Days can be organized by any group of educators and agricultural producers, and the Utah Farm Bureau has funds to meet the cost of separately organized Farm Field Days.[1] The learning stations at Farm Field Days are designed to complement the curriculum objective, set by the Utah Office of Education, to maximize educational benefits for students.

Utah County 4–H established an Urban Sheep Project that allows students in the city to raise their own sheep on a nearby farm, providing them with valuable firsthand experience with livestock.[2]

The Utah State Office of Education has partnered with many Utah agencies and businesses to establish Agricultural Education Pathways, a program for high-school students interested in pursuing a career in one of five different agricultural focus areas. Pathways explores the different ways students can better understand, value, and become involved in agriculture in Utah. However, this program is not part of the statewide required curriculum and exists only as elective high-school courses that are limited in availability depending on location.[3] Many new agriculture jobs are opening up nationwide, and making agriculture a larger part of Utah students’ education will encourage them to pursue career opportunities in agriculture and strengthen the industry within the state.

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) is an organization for students looking to one day become part of the agricultural industry in any form. The FFA has individual chapters in each state, and the Utah branch provides scholarships and learning opportunities for Utah students interested in agriculture.[4]

Educate Landowners and Residents About the Value of Agriculture and Local Food

Who can implement this: State and county officials, universities, governmental organizations, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers

Utah residents care about agriculture. The visioning process in Envision Utah’s Your Utah, Your Future revealed that Utahns want the state’s agricultural sector to thrive and expand. Many agricultural education efforts are directed toward students, leaving adults with few ways to learn about agriculture and its importance in their communities. A broader agricultural education initiative would provide Utah County residents with information and encourage them to purchase local products and vote in favor of local farmers and ranchers, thereby helping strengthen the viability of local food production in their communities.

Understanding and connections to agricultural lands has steadily decreased among urban residents. Outreach efforts should be made to help people learn about the challenges farms face, understand that converting farms into urban lands negatively affects the state’s ability to produce local food, find out where fresh food can be purchased, recognize the environmental tradeoffs associated with having food produced far away versus locally, and appreciate the value of having fresh food available in the region.


  • Statewide organizations (like the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food), universities (like Utah State University), private organizations (like the Utah Farm Bureau), and agricultural producers should strengthen existing partnerships and explore the best ways to educate the public about agriculture.
  • This team or organizations and individuals should create an outreach strategy to educate landowners, residents, and other groups of people who may struggle to find information about supporting agriculture in their communities. The group should reach out to seasoned farmers, gardeners, food preservers, and other experts in order to enhance general education and better understand the opportunities and challenges inherent in Utah County’s agriculture.
  • This team should hold workshops, teach free classes, and/or create deliverable documents that aim to increase general and specific knowledge about agriculture for various groups of Utah County residents. These efforts should be outreach driven in the hopes of educating a diverse range of people.

The county and state fair should continue to educate Utahns about the benefits of local agriculture. While venues already include booths about farming and ranching, these events should include more information about the condition of agriculture in Utah and inform attendees about the benefits of farming and how they can encourage and preserve agriculture in their communities.


The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle of Raleigh, North Carolina, runs a teaching farm where volunteers from any profession can learn about agricultural production by obtaining hands-on experience at a working farm and growing food for the local community. This teaching farm is a rare example of a program that allows adults to learn more about agriculture and get a glimpse into how food is grown.[1]

Utah State University Extension has a strong history of agricultural outreach. The USU Food Sense program educates community members at local farmers markets and promotes fresh, local food. Concerned lawmakers and organizations should work directly with the university to better inform the public about agriculture and local food. Other organizations or universities could also adopt USU’s model of outreach and education.[2]


Educate Elected Officials Across the County About the Importance of Agriculture and Their Roles in Promoting Its Future

Who can implement this: State, county, and city officials; universities; governmental organizations; advocacy organizations; and agricultural producers

Support for agriculture in Utah County among elected officials can vary widely, especially as new people with new ideas are voted in during every election cycle. Though land-use practices in Utah County often do not reflect the importance of sustaining agriculture, elected officials should prioritize agriculture in their agenda because of its tremendous economic and cultural effects on life in Utah County.

Though agricultural education is crucial for younger generations, older generations should not be overlooked in farming education efforts. Elected officials in Utah County should be continually educated about the current conditions and future possibilities of agriculture in the county. In some regions across the nation, hosting farm tours for elected officials has helped leaders better understand agriculture’s role in their communities. These tours have also allowed leaders to receive hands-on farming experiences, which help them better understand the benefits and opportunities provided by of agriculture, as well as the challenges farmers and ranchers face.

Policymakers would also benefit from assistance in writing grants to apply for funding that would support agriculture in their jurisdictions. The grant-writing process needs to be made more accessible and approachable through educational programs. Having county and city officials hold grant-writing workshops with farmers may also be helpful.


  • Agricultural experts from universities, state agricultural organizations, the farming industry, and advocacy organizations should continue to reach out to elected officials to help lawmakers understand the importance of agriculture in Utah County.
  • These experts should hold yearly field days to educate newly elected officials about farming and to connect them with important agricultural producers and agricultural businesses. Building relationships among elected officials, agricultural experts, advocacy organizations, and individual producers is crucial in ensuring that lawmakers have all the information needed to understand and create laws regarding agriculture.


The Utah Farm Bureau is politically active and involved in educating lawmakers about local and statewide issues that affect agriculture. The organization believes that change happens at a grassroots level and works closely at the county level to implement changes. The Utah Farm Bureau also promotes agricultural education at all levels, educating community members from lawmakers to students about different aspects of agriculture.[1]