Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Local Food Advisory Council Appointed -- Begins Business 9/21/17

 September 21, 2017


Utah Local Food Advisory Council Appointed -- Begins Business Sept. 21, 2017

Council to set priorities for protecting and enhancing local food supply


(Salt Lake City) The Utah Local Food Advisory Council, created by the state legislature during the 2017 General Session, has been appointed and will meet for the first time on Sept. 21, 2017 at Wheeler Farm.


The 13-member council is made up of state legislators, farmers and ranchers and organizations connected with food and agriculture. The council was created in response to increasing interest and support for local food by the public. The purpose of the council is to contribute to:


  • building a local food economy;
  • benefitting the state by creating jobs;
  • stimulating statewide economic development;
  • circulating money from local food sales within local communities;
  • preserving open space;
  • and fostering the viability of family-owned farms.


“North Carolina, Kansas and other states have food advisory councils, and as a member of the Utah House Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture committee, I felt that this could be tremendously beneficial in Utah as well” said Rep. Steve Handy. “Everyone is in favor of food sustainability and we all want local produce, poultry and beef, but we didn’t have a broad-based forum to discuss sustainability and  input,” Handy said. “I’m thrilled that the legislature saw the broad vision for such an effort, and that Gov. Herbert signed the bill into law. We’re anxious to get to work on these critical issues of our day.”


According to the United States Department of Agriculture,, approximately 10 percent (1,876) of Utah’s 18,000 farms sell directly to the public, compared to the national average of 7.8 percent. Many of these farms also sell to local grocery stores and restaurants. However, many of the farms that sell directly to consumers and through local distribution chains are also facing pressure from population growth and development, and from food safety and environmental regulations.


Protecting agricultural lands and ensuring farmers have places to grow food is a top priority of the council. A growing number of farmers and ranchers lease some or all of the land on which they grow. Often they do not know if they will have the same land available on which to grow from year to year. Council members Maryann Alston, (Urban Farm and Feed), Sandy, Jordan Riley, (Riley Farms, Perry) and Carly Gillespie (BUG Farms, Salt Lake City) are among the Utah farmers who face issues of land insecurity.


Over the next five years, the council will study and make recommendations on how to best promote vibrant, locally owned farms; how to best promote resilient ecosystems; how to best promote strong communities and healthy eating; how to best enhance thriving local food economies; how best to assess impacts of population growth and urbanization and the decline in productive ranch and farmland. The council will also conduct an assessment of laws and regulations that potentially deter or hinder the direct sales of locally grown and produced food and research steps to develop and implement a robust, integrated local food system.


The council will begin its work on Thurs., Sept. 21, at 10:00 a.m. at at Wheeler Farm south lawn pavilion (6351 South 900 East, Murray) for a kickoff and tour of the farm, with the first meeting to follow beginning at 11:00 am.


The media is invited to attend the kickoff, tour and meeting. Along with council co-chairs Rep. Handy and Sen. Gene Davis, council members will be available following the kickoff for interviews. Wheeler Farm offers farm B-roll and generic photo opportunities.


The Local Food Advisory Council membership includes:

  • Representative Steve Handy (R-Layton) (co-chair)
  • Senator Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake) (co-chair)
  • Representative Marie Poulson (D-Salt Lake)
  • Bjorn Carlson, Blue Tree Farms, Bluebell, UT
  • Shayn Bowler, Utah Natural Meat, West Jordan, UT
  • Carly Gillespie, B.U.G. Farms, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Jordan Riley, Riley Farms, Perry, UT
  • Maryann Alston, Urban Farm and Feed, Sandy/Draper, UT
  • Sterling Brown, Utah Farm Bureau
  • Marti Woolford, Utahns Against Hunger
  • Dr. Kelsey Hall, Utah State University
  • Heather Borski, Utah Dept. of Health
  • Wayne Bradshaw, Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food                          


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Jack Wilbur (801) 538-7098

 Cell (801) 243-2801

Rep. Steve Handy (801) 979-8711