Utah Farm Bureau members, opening their annual two-day conference Thursday at the Salt Lake Marriott, focused on some of the challenges that await Utah farmers and ranchers in 1991.

C. Booth Wallentine, UFB executive vice president, said one of the biggest challenges facing Farm Bureau members in Utah is forging a working relationship with the new 3rd District congressman.Democrat Bill Orton defeated Republican Karl Snow Nov. 6 for the seat being vacated by Republican Howard Nielson, who is retiring from Congress.

Wallentine said farmers' relationship with Nielson "has been splendid. "He has always had an open door for us. The Utah Farm Bureau is not a partisan organization, and we will work with any party - if political leaders will work with us," he said.

Also at the top of Utah farmers' and ranchers' list of challenges for the future are environmental issues.

The Farm Bureau official called wetlands designations by the federal government "one of the biggest intrusions into private property rights that the government has ever made in U.S. history."

Wilderness designations challenge agriculture, he said, "as do problems such as landowner-wildlife conflicts; water rights; fire, weed and predator control; timber, mining, oil and gas restrictions; dwindling job opportunities; and economic graz-ing.

"Hunters, campers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts have more in common with farmers and ranchers than they have differences, and all of us will be affected by any wilderness designations. It is time for farmers and ranchers to sit down with sportsmen and recreationists and work out strategies that will help us all."

Wallentine said he disagrees with Democratic Rep. Wayne Owens' proposal to wait five to 10 years before designating a wilderness area on Bureau of Land Management property in Utah.

"This long wait prohibits any planning and development in these areas. I also object to Owens' proposal to set aside 3.2 million BLM acres in Utah as wilderness, which is 1.2 million acres more than even the BLM has considered for wilderness."

Other problems facing Utah agriculture, Wallentine said, include proposed expansion of national parks in the state and restricted use designations such as National Recreation Areas, National Conservation Areas and wildlife preserves.

"Utah farmers and ranchers will have to deal with growing environmental ecoterrorism; furors over food safety; attacks on the traditional green-belt designations; mandatory pesticide record keeping; the establishment of organic food standards in the new Farm Bill; and the Real Estate Transfer Act, which will come before the 1991 Utah Legislature."

Wallentine urged Utah's farmers and ranchers to get involved, "write letters to your local, state and national government leaders. Get to know the decisionmakers whose choices affect you, and let them know what you think and how you feel," he said.

"I promise you, the Utah Farm Bureau will do all it can on the local level as well as in Washington to represent Utah's farmers and ranchers."