Urban sprawl among top threats to Utah farms

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  • OLD-GUY Central, Utah
    Sept. 17, 2011 11:21 p.m.

    Certainly other areas have faced the threat of development to their farms. In some cases (like many big urban cities) development has won, farming has lost. I don't want to be like New York or even parts of Orem.

    There have been many studies about the need for open space mixed in with our developed areas. Sometimes parks have been created, it other cases places like golf courses have helped.

    Money is often the reason for a farm being given over for development. Taxes and land values go up and farming just doesn't brin in enough, so it is sold and developed.

    Some areas have tried to use innovative techniques like conservation easments that permit the farmer to stay and raise crops while at the same time the farm contributes to the open space recommended areas. This is truely an investment for the future, for our kids and grandkids.

    Since the article is about development being the biggest threat to the farmers, maybe we should check out some ways to obtain a conservation easement on these properties and accomplish two things at the same time.

    Think about it ... how can we do that?

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 10:16 p.m.

    Farmers don't get rich, and often their earnings are below what minimum wage would mandate. Forget about working union hours or overtime.

    Crop farming depends on tillable land and good water supplies, so it is not as easy as telling them to just move eslewhere so the next ripple of ubrban/suburban sprawl can occupy their current farms. They cannot just plant corn or wheat or veggies on the other side of the Stansbury mountains, although you could build houses on such terrain.

    As farmers get displaced, food costs rise for everyone. As farming methods are restricted by environuts or government regulation, costs rise or production drops making food mre expensive, and urban sprawl makes it necessary to haul food further, not the "eat local" claptrap the left loves so much.

    Don't even think of what will happen if the U.S. farms get hit by weather, disease or insect disasters. One or two years of that could result in famine for much of the world, who depend on the American farmer.

    I just want to thank farmers for feeding me and my family such wonderful food (including yummy meats!) all these years for such low prices.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    Ok. Yes, more than most of you, I know what food production looks like. Yes, I grew up on a mixed farm. Cows, canola, wheat, hay, chickens, sheep. And what I see is that 'lifestyle' or 'heritage' farming doesn't make sense anymore. We're seven billion people, more and more of which want a cheap, high protein diet. Mom and pop 160 acre farms are not profitable ventures, no matter how much government money gets thrown at them. Yes, you've found small farmers willing to complain. That's like finding a tea partier willing to scream themselves apoplectic over taxes. Pretty easy. Sorry, but a farm today is a thousand sow farrow to finish operation. Ten thousand head in a feedlot. Four hundred thousand laying hens. The sooner we actually do recognise what it takes to provide us with our diet the better. It's not a lifestyle, or a right to gripe. It's an industry. And look up what a hutterite is.

  • George Bronx, NY
    Sept. 17, 2011 7:25 p.m.

    @Gruff Gummi

    That is actually a reasonable use of the land gruff its called farming and once again farm land is not urban and neither is suburban sprawl. Look the terms up they do not mean what you seem to think.

  • roswell Saint George, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    I've read the comments so far and see there are some reasonable thoughts on both sides. This is not an either/or situation, although many would like to create that dichotomy. If we were thoughtful about this we would look at the far ranging impact of the options before us. At one time in our country we valued large lots and big freeways. For awhile that worked OK, but then came energy limitations, water limitations, excessive drive times, and limited green space, all of which impact our quality of living. Having grown up in rural New Mexico, but also having lived in large cities both in the US and Europe, and having visited humongous cities of China, Africa, and the Middle East, there are definitely better and poorer ways to create a beneficial quality of life. We are fortunate in Utah to still have the resources and the options to grow in delightful ways, but we should learn from the abuses of the past. One quick recommendation is to drive down State Street in Orem and determine if you like what you see. As mutual stewards of the land may we choose to bless future generations.

  • Big Red '93 The High Plains of, Texas
    Sept. 17, 2011 4:15 p.m.

    Yes, farmers are businessmen, they have to be in order to survive. I grow vegetables, a very high risk type of farming. We do it because we love it, it's in our blood, and it's a family thing. We try to make the most money we can, just like everyone who works does. Good growers only makes a decent profit 2 - 3 years out of 5. I hire high school and college kids all the time to help me weed, hoe, spray, scout, irrigate and harvest. It's not pleasant work, but every single one (and I mean that sincerely) has told me that this job has taught them a lot about work ethics and responsibility. They actually take pride in seeing crops go from seedlings to maturity and harvest. Parents ask me all the time if their children can work for me because they want them to "learn how to work"! None of those kids will go into farming, but the lessons they learned will stick with them. Many growers tell me it would be easier for to take our money to Vegas and lose it gambling than lose it farming, but it is our way of life.

  • Gruffi Gummi Logan, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 4:02 p.m.

    We don't want to "embrace" the urban density, and that's why we live in Utah. And my .26 acre has been put to work, producing apples, cherries, plums, strawberries, pears and grapes.Urban sprawl at its best!

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    red rocks | 12:55 p.m.

    Knowing anything about what you are talking about is not a rule that is enforced, in the voices section of this paper, either by the posters or most of the editorial writers.

    We moved to town when I was 7, and beyond that I only worked at farm labor a few times. I don't remember any particular exhilaration except being very tired and believe me. feeling very tired is not good. If God says I have to work that very hard for my daily bread, I just may choose the other place.

    All of us are selfish, it probably comes from the natural survival instinct that is in all life. However, I also believe that farmers are among the most selfish. I have never seen a "No Trespassing" sign in a residential neighbor hood, but they were the scourge of life when I was young and wanted to fish or hunt and needed access.

    Farmers are people. Some good and some bad. But all farmers who earn their daily bread by farming are businessmen. And my mission in life is to bring ordinary working people up to their joy.

  • red rocks Saint George, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    For all of those who have commented on this please tell the rest of us if you ever had farmed or lived on a farm to even be qualified to talk about the lifestyle of the farmer and what they go through to provide for their family. As to the comment that you can farm anywhere no you can't. Most of these farms have been here through many generations they don't want to move nor should they if they don't want.

    the problem is that most of us are very selfish and expect the rest of the world to change to meet our demands.

  • Big Red '93 The High Plains of, Texas
    Sept. 17, 2011 12:46 p.m.

    @ hutterite and toosmartforyou

    Moving a dairy is one thing, moving a produce farm is another. You can pack a lot of cows on small acreage and still give them imported feed, but good productive land to grow that feed or vegetable crops, with good water for irrigation, especially in Utah is hard to come by. Increased fuel and transportation costs means less profits, and more farmers going out of business every year. It also means your food costs will go up and more will be imported from foreign countries with less regulations. Americans are spoiled with the most abundant food supply, that is the cheapest and safest on this planet. You can moan and groan all you want about farmers bragging on the hard work they do, and their lifestyle, but there is no other group that takes the physical, mental, emotional and financial risks than farmers. I am surprised at the arrogance and ignorance of some people posting here. Without farmers, there is no food. Without food, there is no you and me.

  • George Bronx, NY
    Sept. 17, 2011 10:24 a.m.

    It is called Urban density. New York City has a population of over 8.7 million people. the entire state of Utah has a population of 2.7 million. The entire state of Utah would fit on the island of Manhattan or an area about the third of the size of the Salt Lake Valley. Think about the amount of open space Utah would have if they embraced urban density over suburban sprawl. I have been to Utah lived there for 30 years which is way the suburban sprawl makes me sad.
    As to your statement about already being born that argument, I would contend it is more tragic to bring a child into a world that already strains to meet the needs of the people that inhabit it.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 17, 2011 7:36 a.m.

    All my life I have been subjected to the crocodile tears of farmers as they go about their phony program of false glorification of themselves.

    Statements like: "It speaks of getting down in the dirt, making a living the hard way, but a way that is rewarded through bountiful harvests and a feel-good tired at the end of the day", try to tell us there is something wholesome and character building about getting dirty. Coal miners and factory workers have it all over the farmer as far as getting dirty, and their harvest is no less important to us. yet they are treated badly, chastised for their efforts improve their lot.

    Farmers are businessmen, farming is a business. Farmers deserve no more deification than any other businessmen.

    Farmers don't deserve to have working people taxpayers pay their share of the cost of government.

    They don't deserve to hold land at low taxes speculating on the price rise to make them a fortune.

    They don't deserve to prey upon the unfortunates of other nations to obtain their cheap labor.

    They don't deserve to have subsidies so they can undercut other nations farmers.

    etc. etc. etc.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Sept. 16, 2011 11:05 p.m.

    @ George

    Funny that someone from the Bronx (New York City) would want to comment about sprawl when NYC is the largest city in the country. And regarding the size of a family, let's just say that such an argument is always made by someone who has already been born; sorta ironic, isn't it?

    Come west sometime and discover the vast acerages and square miles that aren't stuffed full of buildings and taxi cabs and maybe you'd see that the key to producing quality farm land has to do with the availability of water more than anything else.

    Relocating a farm, like the dairy farm from West Jordan, is hardly eating up all the farm land. Even California, with their millions of people, still has huge amounts of farming.

  • George Bronx, NY
    Sept. 16, 2011 10:17 p.m.

    @hutterite and toosmartforyou

    you do realize if you eat up all the farm land with your suburban (its not urban) sprawl there will be no food right? maybe it is time to think about urban density and dare I say not having so many children?

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Sept. 16, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    People need a place to live. Their children grow up and need a place to live. Then their grandchildren need a place to live as they become adults and have families. Farming can be done almost anywhere but if you live in a growing state, farming fairly close to a growing city, you might ought to look around and relocate. A famous dairy farm in West Jordan did that a few years ago. And I'm sure the sale of their land was greater than the price of where they relocated. The cynics answer to a drop in demand for housing is a drop in population. And no one wants that kind of war or uncurable disease to takwe wholeasale numbers of lives.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 16, 2011 6:31 p.m.

    What is the objective of farming? Is it to preserve a legacy, support a lifestyle or provide entertainment in a bucolic setting? How much government money should we need to put into it? We want a cost effective, high protein diet. Farming needs to be about producing those commodites, profitably. Today that usually means economies of scale. Go big, or get out. And sprawl? Those are customers.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 16, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    that would be suburban sprawl not urban sprawl. This is the result of everyone thinking they need their .25 acres of land and a little white house with a little white picket fence.