Utah business and agriculture leaders Tuesday said they hope to multiply farm and farm-related business income in the state five times or more through increasing Utah commodities that are further processed.
Members of the Governor's Task Force on Agribusiness Development, meeting for the first time at the Governor's Mansion, said too many raw products are shipped out of Utah when they could be "value added" or made into more profitable food items.Tons of high quality alfalfa is shipped out of the state when it could, instead, be fed to Utah cows and turned into milk and cheese. Cheese plants in the state now have to import milk and cheese from California, Idaho and other areas to fill their quotas.
Thousands of pounds of beef and other red meat are shipped out of Utah on the hoof when it could be processed in Utah slaughter houses, packaged and sold as finished meat products.
Gov. Norm Bangerter told the group this is the first time the Utah Department of Agriculture and the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development have gotten together to form a task force to boost agriculture and agriculture-related businesses.
Members of the task force said the gross revenue from Utah's farm and ranch products exceeds $700 million a year, and that figure could reach $3 billion to $4 billion in the next few years by adding value to Utah farm products.
Members of the task force include C. Booth Wallentine, executive vice president of the Utah Farm Bureau as chairman; Julien Den Tandt, president of Norbest as vice-chairman; Lonnie Adams, executive vice president of Cookie Tree; Clint Warby, administrator of the Utah Dairy Commission; Brandy Parker, executive secretary of the Utah-Idaho Farmers Union; and Gary Rose, president of the Utah Beef Council.
Other members are Don Snyder, chief economist with Utah State University Extension; Bill Candland, senior vice president of Valley Bank; Bill Fenimore, vice president for operations of Horizons International Foods; and Ted Lee, executive secretary of Utah Wool Growers.
The task force also includes Paul Larson, vice president for Extension administration at USU; Robyn Pearson, Millard County administrator; and Phil Muir, vice president of Muir-Roberts Co.