“It points to the fact that we have a pretty strong interest in people producing local food and consuming local food,” said Doug Perry, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
By Amy Joi O’Donoghue
April 14, 2019
Utah lost 162,792 acres of farmland since 2012, when the last census of agriculture was done, but gained 382 farms. A farm is defined as an agricultural producer with at least $1,000 in sales, which Perry says underscores the popularity of farmers markets and with it the increase in boutique farming operations across the increasingly urbanized Wasatch Front.
“Census data gives us a critical snapshot of important facts and trends that impact policy and decisions for the next several years,” said LuAnn Adams, commissioner for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, adding that producer participation in the census is high, at 75 percent.
Montague and Dalgleish don’t own any of the land they farm on, but have eked out varying agreements with landowners by purchasing the water they use for growing anywhere from 35 to 45 different kinds of crops.
Coming by the land has been challenge, Montague admits, and emphasizes to him the rapid pace of development happening in Utah and elsewhere.
“We are lucky where we are because I think there is a cultural history of agriculture here with the pioneers who had to be self-sufficient. Even though there are different social and political types who are getting into this, it is something we can all come together about,” he said. “We want to see our food grown locally, we want to know where it comes from, that it is not poisonous and it’s fresh. It is a big problem for all us that this land will be developed.”
The census numbers do demonstrate that despite development pressures, Utah County remains among the top five agricultural counties in the state for monetary value, producing $203 million in agricultural goods.