Rep. Draxler wants to preserve farmlands

Rep. Jack Draxler, North Logan, is sponsoring a bill to preserve Utah farmlands. “We are proposing that when greenbelt designated farmland goes out of agricultural production that those funds in each county go into a fund that will accrue and be able to purchase conservation easements on prime, productive agricultural land.” Draxler said the Department of Agriculture brought the bill to him and asked him to sponsor it. “There has been a lot of discussion the past year about how serious our loss of agricultural land is becoming. A lot of things get our attention, but we take food for granted and we’re reaching the point we shouldn’t take food for granted anymore as a nation.” Rep. Draxler said it is amazing how many farm families want to keep their land in production. “Families in many cases have been on that land for 100 years and they would like for it to stay that way for another 100 years.” He said the goal is to try to preserve the best agricultural land for producing food. “This would be a completely voluntary program where only those farmers who want to keep their land in agriculture would apply for this. “This is the selling of development rights. Most conservation easements are in perpetuity; the landowner continues to own the land but the development rights are held in this easement by the Department of Agriculture so that the land can always stay in agricultural production. He can continue to farm it, his heirs can farm it. Or, he can sell it. But even to whom he sells it, it must continue to stay in agricultural production.” Draxler said his proposed bill has gotten strong support from the State Department of Agriculture and Food and from the State Conservation Commission, plus the Utah Association of Conservation Districts in addition to many county commissioners. “Monday we held a conference in Salt Lake City about the sustainability of agriculture and it was very well received by the farmers, their organizations and the people who care about agriculture.”

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