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UDAF Announces $112,500 Startup Grant for the Development of Local Food Hub

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will be awarding $112,500 through the Local Food Hub Startup and Development Fund to one or more eligible applicants. This grant is the result of a one-time 2021 legislative appropriation (SB 3, Line 2005, Item 256, Senator Gene Davis) and is intended to provide seed funding towards the development of a food hub that connects farm fresh food to consumers along the Wasatch Front. 

Food hubs are innovative distribution centers that act as aggregators for small to medium-sized producers and provide wholesale, retail, and institutional market opportunities including schools, hotels, and restaurants that would otherwise be inaccessible to those producers. Food hubs may also provide minimal processing, e.g. for produce deemed too cosmetically imperfect for retail sales, creating new revenue streams for farmers. 

Eligible applicants must be one of the following: 

  • A Utah based for-profit business 
  • A Utah based non-profit organization with existing 501c3 status 
  • A Utah farmer or group of farmers 
  • A Utah rancher or group of ranchers 
  • An agricultural industry group 
  • An agricultural marketing entity 

Examples of how funding may be used include, but are not limited to: cooler and freezer space, manufacturing and packaging equipment, etc. 

“Utah is one of just five states that lack a centralized food hub distribution system. As we discovered during the last year, it’s incredibly important to strengthen our local food systems to keep the food produced in Utah connected with all Utah consumers.” — Commissioner Craig Buttars. 

“We thank the legislature and the Local Food Advisory Council for their recognition of this need and their efforts in educating the public about the importance of food hubs for Utah farmers, ranchers, processors, and consumers statewide.” — Linda Clark Gillmor, Director of Marketing and Economic Development. 

Find additional information, including a sample application, at The application window will be open July 1 – August 27, 2021.



UDAF Urges Extreme Caution with Agricultural Burns Amidst Exceptional Drought Conditions

As the state of Utah is experiencing exceptional drought conditions and has entered the closed fire season of June 1-October 31, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is urging all Utahns, including those in the agricultural community, to avoid burning fires, whether they be recreational or prescribed burns for agricultural purposes. 

“Farmers and ranchers are being greatly affected by the extreme drought conditions this year,” said Craig Buttars, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Food. “Feed for livestock will be scarce, which is why it will be even more pertinent that we have as much rangeland as possible. Wildfires would be severely detrimental to Utah’s farmers and ranchers.” 

The department recognizes that agricultural or prescribed burns are necessary at times. If this is the case, below are some guidelines to help you burn safely: 

  • Do not burn if not necessary 
  • Do not burn on high wind days 
  • Inform your local fire department that you will be burning, apply for a permit if applicable, and have them on stand by if your fire gets out of control 
  • Have a charged hose and sufficient water to control flare ups 
  • See regulations and additional instructions here:

The Department of Natural Resources, which is closely monitoring the drought and its effects on Utah’s wildlands and forests, echoes the importance of practicing safe burning during this extreme drought year. “Utah is experiencing extreme drought across the state,” said Jamie Barnes, Director of the Forestry, Fire, and State Lands Division in the Department of Natural Resources. “Temperatures are warm and the highs have increased over these last few days. We will start to see an increase in dry fuels and individuals should take caution in all outdoor activities to prevent the starting of a wildfire. Fire sense is very important at all times, but especially in these conditions.” 

UDAF thanks all Utahns for their continued support during these difficult drought conditions and for their efforts in conserving water and preventing wildfires.


UDAF and USBE Announce $250,000 Utah-Grown Incentive Program to Benefit Children and Utah Farmers

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Child Nutrition Program will be administering $250,000 in collaboration with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) for a farm to fork Utah-grown school meal incentive program. This program aims to improve school meal quality and support Utah farmers during the 2021-2022 school year. Money will be paid out to schools as part of their per-meal state reimbursement. School districts that spend a higher portion of their funds on unprocessed Utah-grown food products will receive a higher per-meal state reimbursement. 

Each year, Utah school and childcare centers serve over 88 million meals and snacks to children. As cost is a major barrier cited by both schools and farmers as to why more minimally processed Utah-grown fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat are not included in school meals, this program serves to overcome that barrier and increase access to fresh, locally grown foods. With this program, Utah joins ten other states offering a locally-grown incentive program for school meals including New Mexico, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota, and New York. 

“Farm to school programs and incentives such as this are a win for all involved; children are able to receive nutritious, fresh produce and develop a stronger connection with agriculture, producers are able to access a large, consistent market, and the economic benefits strengthen local economies in urban and rural areas alike.” — UDAF Commissioner Craig W Buttars. 

“Utah’s farms and school food programs both often operate on shoestring budgets, making it difficult for schools to consistently purchase local food and develop strong relationships with Utah farmers. By providing extra funds to schools that purchase Utah-grown products, we make it possible to pay farmers fair market value for their food and for schools to provide fresh nutritious meals to as many students as possible.” — Kathleen Britton, USBE Director of Chid Nutrition Programs 



Announcing the FY2022 Water Optimization Grant

UDAF’s Water Optimization Program was created during the 2018 General Session (HB 381) to reduce agricultural water diversion or consumptive use while maintaining or improving agriculture production and profitability.

The 2021 Legislative secession added an additional $3,000,000 in funding to the program. All projects must include real-time metering and document water saved. 2021 applications will be open May 5 – June 2, 2021.

Click here to learn more and how to apply.

For more information contact Jay Olsen:, 801-718-0517.



UDAF Temporarily Adjusts Medical Cannabis Testing Protocols Due to Global Shortages of Laboratory Supplies

Due to global shortages of lab supplies, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) will be temporarily adjusting testing protocols for medical cannabis products. 

Laboratory supplies have been heavily impacted by supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19. Due to global shortages of filtered PCR clean pipette tips, commonly used in testing for SARS-CoV-2, pathogen testing capabilities using qPCR are limited. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has filed an emergency rule adjusting Section R68-29-8 Microbial Standards, effective April 29, 2021 through August 27, 2021. 

UDAF Laboratories and other licensed medical cannabis testing laboratories will continue to be required to test for total aerobic microbial counts and total yeast and mold counts. However, the additional specific pathogens listed in Table 2 of Rule R68-29 may be tested for, at the discretion of the department. A sample and related lot or batch of cannabis plant product, cannabis concentrate, or cannabis product will continue to fail quality assurance testing for microbiological contaminants if the results exceed any of the limits set forth in Rule R68-29, Table 2. Testing fees for affected businesses will be reduced from $120 to $70 per sample. 

“UDAF officials and other licensed laboratories will continue testing with available resources to ensure medical cannabis products remain available to patients and that those products are safe and meet quality assurance standards.” — UDAF Commissioner Craig W Buttars. As laboratory supplies become available the testing of cannabis samples for the specific pathogens listed in Table 2 will resume.