Four Recommendations Needed to Preserve
Agriculture’s Critical Lands
Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food
During the coming decades we will need 50 percent more food to feed our growing population. The world’s population is projected to reach 9 billion people (3B more than current), yet our agriculture land continues to decrease.
Agriculture needs better quality land, and more of it, to continue offering affordable, high-quality food worldwide. Preservation of agriculture land is important to us NOW and to our future generations.
Currently less than two percent of our population grows the food and fiber for the rest of us; and only 6 percent of that group are fulltime farmers and ranchers, who produce the vast majority (75%) of the foods in our grocery stores. However, we need all farmers. Even small farmers and backyard gardeners are important in helping provide our food. So we need to do something to help preserve our critical agriculture land that is needed to remain somewhat self-sufficient in Utah.
Traditional agriculture will not survive in a small and fractured land-production system. We need large areas of land devoted to agriculture, so our farmers can use the techniques and technology to remain profitable as they grow our food and care for the land.
I make the following four recommendations:
1. We should consider dedicating county rollback taxes to purchasing conservation easements which keeps farms in production. Currently when Ag. land is sold, a tax is applied at the local county level; I believe this tax should be invested in conservation easement to protect important farm and ranch land.
2. Clustering of homes in farming areas. Cluster multiple development rights from multiple land owners into a common area to allow for larger blocks of land to be farmed in more conducive and conventional agriculture manner and thus preserve more full-time farmers.
3. Encourage development on less productive lands. Don’t make homes the last crop of our prime farmland.
4. Develop policies that protect private property rights and development rights of all landowners. Zoning must not steal property rights, and especially development values from farm land.
Updated: May, 2010