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Conservation Division

 

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food works with farmers and ranchers through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.

The Conservation Programs within the Division work to sustain Utah’s agricultural lands and protect the state’s natural resources. A watershed-wide approach is used to solve resource issues and develop conservation projects and provide funding options from multiple state and federal programs. There are few organizations in the state that rival the work that is done in the division.

Well planned and managed livestock grazing is an important landscape-scale tool for maintaining healthy rangelands, watersheds, and wildlife habitats, and that healthy rangelands contribute to a healthy livestock industry and productive rural economies.

 

Click here to learn more about the Conservation Districts in the State of Utah.

Loan Specialists: Roberta Valdez, robertavaldez@utah.gov or 801-982-2226 and Amy Wengren, awengren@utah.gov (801) 982-2227.

The division is responsible for several loan programs to help the agriculture community and others achieve various worthwhile goals for productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits for the people of Utah. The quality of the portfolios is very high with low delinquencies and a history of minimal losses. The division cooperates with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in managing one loan program and is in process of setting up another program with that agency. Cooperation with other departments of government provides for greater efficiency with minimized duplication of effort and provides the taxpayers with more efficiency in government. The existing programs are:

  • Agriculture Resource and Development Loan (ARDL) Program: The program is managed by the division for the Utah Conservation Commission in cooperation with the local conservation districts throughout the State. The purpose of the loans is to finance improvements for landowners to provide for greater efficiencies in agriculture operations, range improvements, water and soil conservation, disaster assistance and environmental quality. The loans are written for a maximum of fifteen-year terms at tiered interest rate levels and may carry an administration fee that goes directly to  support local conservation efforts across the state.  The program is a revolving fund. The Emergency Disaster Relief Loan (EDRL) Program is currently administered within the ARDL Program.
  • Rural Rehabilitation Loan Programs.: These programs, funded by both State and Federal monies. The purpose of the loans is variously to help financially troubled producers to stay in business, to assist beginning farmers in obtaining farm property and to provide financing for transfer of agriculture properties from one generation to another. They are essentially loans of last resort requiring that applicants be declined by conventional commercial lenders. Terms range up to a maximum of ten years, and interest rates are three percent or less.
  • Petroleum Storage Tank (PST) Loans: This program is managed for DEQ to provide financing for property owners who have underground storage tanks that require removal, replacement or remediation. Loans are made for up to $100,000 per tank up to $300,000 loan cap per facility for a maximum ten-year term at zero percent interest.

The division cooperates with DEQ’s Division of Water Quality to finance projects for eliminating or reducing non-point source water pollution on private lands.

For more information, click here.

Click here to learn more about the Agricultural Voluntary Incentives Program.

Click here to learn more about Animal Feeding Operations.

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) are the result of a rapid increase or accumulation of cyanobacteria in a water body.

Click here to learn more.

Pollinators are a crucial part of our world.  Without pollinators we would not have flowers, fruit, vegetables, or many other plants.  Unfortunately, the numbers of native pollinators such as native bees and butterflies have experienced a sharp decline over the past several decades.  While there are several factors contributing to this decline, one of the main factors is habitat loss, including reduced numbers of native plants that provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for these pollinators.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, in cooperation with Southern Utah University, Utah State University, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, have started a program focused on educating Utahns about what can be done to improve native pollinator habitats from their farming operations to their backyard gardens.  This program will identify species of pollinator-friendly plants that can be planted on your property to help native pollinators.  It also provides funding to interested individuals to help purchase the seeds or plants that our experts recommend.

If you would like to learn more information about the UDAF Pollinator program please contact Tracy Balch at tbalch@utah.gov or at 435 201-0794.

Mark Quilter, Ground Water Specialist
(801) 982-2231

The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program was established during the enactment of the Clean Water Act. The seven Colorado River Basin states joined with federal agencies to prevent damages to lower basin states (Arizona, California, and Nevada) at the same time allow upper basin states to develop their compacted waters. A program that focused on improving irrigation efficiency was put in place and funded through Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of Agriculture and the Basin States.

In Utah the program operates as a partnership with BOR, USDA, EPA, USGS, US F&WS, and BLM as federal agencies and UDAF, DEQ, DNR, local conservation districts, local conservancy districts, and local irrigation entities. These partners discuss, plan and implement projects which reduce the movement and flow of salts into the Colorado River and its tributaries. The projects also benefit local Utah residents with improved irrigation infrastructure, longer irrigation season, more efficient water use, and increased economies in project areas. Representatives from the state agency and local partners are members of the CRBSCP Forum, Advisory Council, and Workgroup which oversee and guide the salinity control program among the seven basin states.

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Mark Quilter, Ground Water Specialist
(801) 982-2231

NOTE: The State Ground Water Program is no longer accepting applications for water testing, as the program has been suspended.

The State Ground Water Program, administered by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), was implemented in 1996 to assist private well owners in determining the quality of their drinking, irrigation, and livestock water. The program receives assistance from local conservation districts in the selection of wells to sample.

Ground Water Reports:

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

February 1999 Program Update

1999

1998

1997

1996

Click here to learn more about the Soil Health Program.

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: jayolsen@utah.gov, 801-718-0517.