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Within the Utah Agriculture Community

UDAF’s Interim Commissioner Kelly Pehrson quotes “Agriculture is a very important industry in this state. Agriculture as a business can be incredibly stressful due to daily pressures, often including high levels of debt and low profit margins. If you or a loved one is experiencing extreme stress, here are resources, including hotlines, that can help…”

🔹 Utah Farm Bureau Rural Resilience:
🔹 Farm Crisis:

Please share this very important piece of our community to your family and friends.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Utah Small Businesses

Small nonfarm businesses in 18 Utah counties are now eligible to apply for low‑interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began Jan. 1, 2019.

Primary Utah counties

  • Box Elder
  • Grand
  • San Juan
  • Tooele
  • Uintah

Neighboring Utah counties: 

  • Cache
  • Carbon
  • Daggett
  • Davis
  • Duchesne
  • Emery
  • Garfield
  • Juab
  • Kane
  • Salt Lake
  • Utah
  • Wayne
  • Weber

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 3.74 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on Nov. 6, 2019.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is July 6, 2020.


Scrambling for Utah Eggs: A Tribute to one of Utah’s Most Unique Ag Products

Commissioner Kerry Gibson was our honorary taste tester.

One-point-five billion is a fairly mind-boggling number but it’s how many eggs Utah egg producers harvest each year. What’s also unique is that the industry actually creates a surplus in the state – one of the very few agriculture products where we have enough extra to share with others. In fact, enough for every citizen to eat one egg per day every day, while still distributing tens of millions to other countries like China and Mexico.

So, with National Deviled Egg Day just around the corner on November 2, it seemed only fitting that the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food create a day honoring our state’s egg producers and their enormous contribution here locally and abroad.

Held today (November 1), the event included remarks by UDAF Commissioner Kerry Gibson and UDAF Assistant Egg and Poultry Program Manager Mitch Frost, along with one of Utah’s largest producers Oakdell Eggs and one of the smaller commercial producers, Clifford Family Farms. To tie-in the deviled egg element, three local chefs were invited to share their favorite recipes that are posted below.

Each chef prepared six unique deviled egg recipes that were so yummy!

Fast facts about Utah Eggs:

  • 1.5 Billion produced each year
  • $75 million industry in Utah
  • 23 million eggs are shipped to China and 8 million eggs shipped to Mexico each year

Eggs for the event were provided generously by Oakdell Eggs and Fazio Eggs

Our special guest chefs and their recipes were:

Chef Scott Hamilton is a classically trained Chef, graduating from The International Culinary Institute at the Art Institute of Salt Lake. He has held positions from line cook to Executive Chef, and is now a proud stay at home father while working on his newest venture, High Desert Kitchen. Always pushing himself, he continually learns about new ingredients and techniques. Scott’s passionate, adventurous, and competitive spirit can be seen, felt, and tasted in his food. Recipes Here.

Chefs (LtoR): Oksana Honcharuk, Jennifer Martello, Scott Hamilton

Chef Jenn Martello is a Utah born native who studied the culinary arts in Los Angeles, California at Le Cordon Bleu.  She has worked as a Corporate Chef and a host to various online cooking “How to” videos. After starting a family and moving back to Utah, she began her business as a private chef. She excels at customized plated dinners and boutique-style catering. Her greatest rewards have been volunteering. She has taught at-risk teens the culinary arts and has recently volunteered at the Fisher house cooking for ill Veterans and their families. Recipes Here.

Oksana Honcharuk, is from Ukraine where her passion for cooking and baking began with helping her mom and learning from her. She grew up cooking and baking for friends and family and loved it so much that it became a profession later. With the recent move to United States, she has started DearSweets Home Bakery where she does pastry, deserts, and breads with the intent to follow her passion and share the dear sweets! Recipes Here.

UDAF to Host Egg Quality Assurance Plan Training

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) will be holding its annual Egg Quality Assurance Plan Training, October 16 at UDAF offices in Salt Lake City.

“Food safety is paramount to our mission and that starts with regular preparedness and training of our industry partners,” said UDAF Commissioner Kerry Gibson. “The role our inspectors play is equally important as we provide industry surveillance, appropriate responses, and containment plans that address the risk factors impacting Utah citizens.”

Industry participants of the training include state egg producers, graders, and inspectors, along with state and federal officials from UDAF, FDA, Health Department, USDA/APHIS/VS, and the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

The agenda includes poultry rodent control, disease, and foodborne outbreak prevention, biosecurity, food safety, assessment guidelines and updates to those guidelines.

“This training is required by our plan and is an important part of our efforts to ensure our poultry in the State remain disease-free and  provides assurance that consumers are getting safe, wholesome, quality eggs, egg products, and poultry,” said Dr. Robert Erickson, field veterinarian for the UDAF Division of Animal Industries. “This and other trainings ease our job of enforcing uniformity and compliance to match industry standards.”

Utah’s egg industry consists of 3.6 million egg-laying chickens that produce one billion eggs annually. That represents nearly $150 million in revenue and nine percent of Utah’s agricultural industry.

In May 2018, UDAF’s Egg and Poultry Grading team received Governor Herbert’s Award of Excellence at a special ceremony at the Capitol. The recognition was given for consistently demonstrating outstanding contributions to consumers of Utah, seven days a week and including holidays.

Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons

Commissioner Kerry Gibson

Most Utahns don’t know this but in the last couple of years our ranchers, government partners, and others have come together to create an important evolutionary step in rotational grazing agreements. The key to this accomplishment was communication, commitment, and collectivism.

It may seem most citizens will feel little or no impact from this effort, but the lessons learned are a great reminder for all of us. Healthier rangelands mean a stronger more natural ecosystem, an ability to capture and hold precious water resources, and stronger economic prosperity for ranchers.

Let me explain how we got here because I believe this application is viable in urban business settings, with social issues, and strikes at the root of so many challenges each of us face in life.

In 1833, British economist William Forster Lloyd penned an essay theorizing that uncoordinated animal grazing will ultimately destroy the richness of resources neighboring ranchers enjoy. Lloyd felt it was critical for landowners to understand that the decisions of individuals can harm the collective if everyone keeps to themselves.

More than a century later, American biologist Garrett Hardin amplified the work of Lloyd, publishing an expanded version of his own application of the theory and calling it The Tragedy of the Commons. This time-honored principle of organizing with neighbors extends far beyond ranching. We can all learn to better communicate with one another, share one another’s burdens, and create a synergy that simply accomplishes more.

Even before I assumed the role of commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), our agency has worked tirelessly as a convener of this effort in a project called The Three Creeks Grazing Allotment Consolidation, located in the northeast corner of our state. Prior to the agreement, the Three Creeks area was struggling. Riparian waterways were drying up, plant varieties and wildlife were disappearing, ranchers were limited in their resources and growth, and the area’s entire ecology was significantly strained.

Seeing this was the case, in 2009 UDAF, 39 area agriculture producers in Rich County, and federal partners came together to invoke the powers of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970. These pioneers of grazing cooperation knew their communication was the key to turning things around and the federal NEPA process was the first step.

NEPA was designed to empower federal agencies with authority over managing environmental concerns impacted by projects – preventing a Tragedy of the Commons.

The entire process from beginning to final approval in 2017 took a lot of years, but it was collaborative and set up an important precedent. We’re only a couple of years in but are already seeing progress with improved water resources, the return of plant and wildlife, and an opportunity for ranchers to flourish. However, we believe much can be improved. So allow me to share with you what I feel we can do better the next time.

First, we learned the critical importance of continuity and communication with our federal partners, specifically the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service (USFS). Simply put, leadership turnover in these agencies hurts momentum, and we need to find new ways to strengthen that consistency and commitment.

We also discovered that there is too much redundancy in the NEPA process. Thousands of environmental assessments and impact studies have been done on routine grazing infrastructure improvements, such as water developments and fencing. Do we really need to keep doing them?

Finally, I propose that we need to empower the BLM and USFS to review and evaluate State Water Rights before a decision is made – preventing the customary sluggishness that occurs after. And, we feel that NEPA processes should be spearheaded by one agency’s process as opposed to multiple agencies to help alleviate confusion and complexity.

The early and future successes of the Three Creeks project are attributed to relentless collaborative efforts of all. As I toured the project recently, I couldn’t help but feel proud of the teamwork, high level of detail, and communication on display, something we can all learn from in every walk of life.

Truly, Three Creeks is an example of common entities, public and private sectors, coming together for the common good. I have no doubt this project, and similar ones we embark on in the future will help avoid the Tragedy of the Commons.