AGRICULTURE IN UTAH COUNTY
Agriculture is a significant part of Utah County’s heritage. As Utah County continues to grow, it will be ever more difficult to provide a source of local foods that is sufficient to feed even a fraction of Utah County’s rapidly growing population. The population of Utah County is predicted to double by 2040. Certain fruits and vegetables can only be grown in areas where the micro-climate is favorable, most of these areas are in Utah County.
Utah County has the land, water, knowledge, and ability to produce local food. However, current trends present challenges that include the loss of agricultural land and water to residential and commercial areas. Food producing land is currently being developed at a rate that will leave no irrigated land to grow fruit and vegetables. Utah County needs to act now to preserve resources, so that agriculture can survive and even thrive, this however, requires strategic action.
This toolbox consists of optional recommendations from the Utah County Agriculture Toolbox Steering Committee to the Utah County Commissioners, the Utah County Planning Commission, and the cities in the county who hope to sustain and promote agriculture lands, water, and practices.
This toolbox is focused on promoting and finding support for the best strategies that will help agriculture thrive in Utah County in the coming decades. This toolbox will help Utah County create a plan that ensures long-term continuance of agriculture in a way that’s consistent with Utah values, respecting private property rights and land owner desires. These optional tools vary widely and can be implemented by Utah County, the cities in the county, and even individual landowners to give additional options when deciding the future of their land.
Agriculture thrives best when it is supported by policymakers as well as the private sector. The toolkit offers strategies for improving Utah County’s agricultural future in the context of two main goals, with strategies that can be implemented at different scales to help farmers, lawmakers, and other concerned residents make meaningful changes to benefit the future of agriculture in the county and state. The two goals and focus areas of this toolbox are:
A foundational part of the Utah County Agriculture Toolbox process was to create a Steering, Stakeholder, and Technical Committee to guide the toolbox creation process. The committees worked tirelessly to review and integrate strategies that would be most effective in Utah County.
When Utah consumers purchase locally produced or grown products it builds our Utah economy since a dollar spent on a Utah product creates the effect of adding $4.00 to $6.00 to our Utah economy. In addition, when Utah consumers purchase locally produced products it enhances our Utah environment by protecting our watershed and reducing the carbon footprint of those products."
This toolbox describes some agricultural preservation tools that may already be in place, but may need to be implemented, revised, or enforced. It also describes new tools that used in combination with existing tools may preserve the viability of agriculture as a significant component of Utah County for future generations.
This toolbox is aimed at Utah County; however, many of the tools and strategies can be adapted to benefit agriculture in other counties and cities across the state.
‘Tools’ are strategies that Utah County can use to protect agricultural lands. Many of the strategies have been used with success in other parts of the country. They consist of a combination of incentives, market mechanisms, and support for directing development in Utah County in a way that preserves the unique character of the county.