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According to the Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center, Utah County has a total area of 2,144 square miles, or 1,372,160 acres of land. Much of the county, however, is not available for agricultural uses. A significant portion of the county is mountainous, forested, and publically owned. The valley lands at lower elevations are predominately privately owned, with Utah Lake occupying a large portion. The Utah Division of Water Resources reports that in Utah County farmers are growing 59,500 acres of alfalfa and hay, 8,600 acres of vegetables and corn, and 5,600 acres of fruits and berries. Compared to previous years, there are very few acres of farmland left in Utah County.

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As the population of Utah County grows, it will be increasingly difficult to provide locally grown foods for even a fraction of the county’s residents. The July 2015 census estimates that Utah County has a population of 575,205 residents, who live in 25 municipalities and in the unincorporated areas of the county. Population estimates from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget predict that the 2050 population will be more than two times the current population, with a projected 1,216,695 people calling Utah County home. As more land on the edges of Salt Lake County continues to be developed, a significant amount of growth and development will shift southward into Utah County. Certain crops can only be grown in areas with specific microclimates commonly found in Utah County; however, much of this land is directly in the path of future growth.

Most other areas of the country will also convert farmland into urban areas, but Utah is unique in that most of our prime farmlands are directly adjacent to the path of development. Land projections estimate that 63,876 acres of farmland—half of the total remaining farmland in Utah County—will be developed by 2050. As a result, most of the high-quality, food-producing farmlands will be lost to urbanization. Once these lands are developed, there are no large amounts of peripheral farmlands for agriculture to move to.

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Agriculture has been an integral part of Utah County’s heritage. The county is home to some of the most vibrant components of the state’s agricultural economy; it is a major producer of popular specialty crops, including pears, cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, and more. Because Utah County has the specific microclimates necessary to grow many of these fruits, as well as  several vegetables, it is an ideal location for diverse agricultural production. Due to its production of specialty crops, in 2012 the county was ranked first in the state for total cash receipts from farming and crop production.

As Utah County plans for population growth, it is important to remember two things: 1) Agriculture is better protected and housing is more affordable in communities where infrastructure such as water, sewer, roads, and schools are already available and 2) taxes paid on agricultural lands subsidize residential development. Studies done by the University of New Hampshire on the cost of community services conclude that residential development contributes less in revenue than they require in government expenditures.

Agriculture contributes more in revenue than it requires in expenditures. Farmland requires $0.37 in public services for each dollar paid in taxes, while residential land requires $1.11 in services for every dollar paid in taxes.

Cities need to better understand the value of agricultural lands in relation to their low public services costs. Though agricultural lands are not considered major tax revenue generators, they are less expensive to maintain and provide other services that are often overlooked by economic analyses.


Through Envision Utah’s Your Utah, Your Future community surveying and visioning process it became clear that Utahns are very concerned about the state’s agricultural future. In 2007, almost one third of Utahns did not have a strong opinion about farming and ranching. By 2014, however, three quarters of Utahns agreed that farming and ranching are critical to Utah’s future. Through the Your Utah, Your Future survey, 97% of the over 50,000 respondents chose one of two scenarios in which Utah substantially increases its production of agricultural products.

Utah County residents envision feeding their families with healthy, high-quality food grown in Utah. They see an abundance of locally grown products as part of a healthy lifestyle that will improve the quality of life for them and future generations. Utah County residents also envision being more self-reliant and less dependent on other states and countries to provide their food. They also want a future in which Utah’s food industry provides jobs for residents.

Utah County has the resources, knowledge, and ability to produce a wide variety of local food, but current trends indicate Utah County will face significant challenges in growing and maintaining agriculture. One major hurdle is the loss of agricultural land and agricultural water as farms and ranches are converted into houses, businesses, and other commercial uses. Action must be taken now to protect and preserve farmland. If deliberate and thoughtful policies are adopted, agriculture in Utah County can continue, and even thrive, well into the future. 

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Summer 2015 – Envision Utah formed Steering and Stakeholder Committees to guide the toolbox creation process. Members of the committees began to review and integrate existing best practices, strategies, and plans.

Fall 2015 – A stakeholder meeting was held to kick off the project and encourage discussion among stakeholders. The group brainstorming activity at the end of the meeting resulted in the initial drafts of the toolbox’s goals and strategies.

Winter 2016 – Envision Utah met with stakeholders individually to further define and develop the goals and strategies of the toolbox. A meeting was held with Utah State University to talk about agricultural education and how agricultural research can benefit Utah County and the state overall.

Envision Utah convened the project Steering Committee to review the draft toolbox strategies. After some changes, the strategies were presented to the Stakeholder group, who discussed them and filled in other gaps in the toolbox. A group exercise at the end of the meeting revealed which goals and strategies the stakeholders thought were a higher priority and which strategies were thought to be less supported or effective.

Spring 2016 – With the help of stakeholders and Utah agriculture experts, Envision Utah drafted the Utah County Agriculture Toolbox. Envision Utah staff worked to write detailed explanations of each strategy in the toolbox, seeking guidance by reaching out to stakeholders and by holding group meetings with experts on different topics.

Summer 2016 – Envision Utah held additional Steering Committee and stakeholder meetings to review a near-final draft of the toolbox. These meetings helped identify and resolve any remaining gaps in information and confirmed the layout and content of the toolbox.

Summer/Fall 2016 – Envision Utah made final edits to the toolbox and finalized the layout, design, and content of the document.

Fall 2016 – The kickoff meeting for the Utah County Agriculture Toolbox was held, and the final draft of the toolbox was released and made available to lawmakers, organizations, communities, and individuals across the county and the state.


There are many programs, grants, and other resources available to Utah County agricultural producers. The above document lists organizations, agencies, and offices working to benefit farmers and ranchers and showcases example programs or grants. This resource is meant to be a jumping-off point for aspiring and existing farmers and ranchers looking to benefit their farm operations; it is not, however, a comprehensive list.

Download complete and abridged versions of the Utah County Agriculture Toolbox using the links below.

The stakeholder group included representatives from local and state government, representatives from nonprofit organizations, farmers, land owners, business owners, academics, and influential figures from other sectors of the community. These stakeholders were selected based on their backgrounds, the expertise they brought to the process, and the influence they have on their communities.


Commissioner Larry Ellertson     
Utah County

Commissioner Bill Lee     
Utah County

Commissioner Greg Graves     Utah County

Senator David Hinkins    
Utah State Senate

Don Wadley    
Alpine Conservation District

Dustin Rowley    
Timp-Nebo Conservation District

LaDonn Christianson    
Land Owner

Senator Margaret Dayton    
Utah State Senate

Representative Mike McKell    Utah State House of Representatives

Richard R. Wilkerson    
Wilkerson Farm

Ryan Creer    
Timp-Nebo, Utah County Conservation District

Scott Ericson    
Utah Department of Agriculture & Food

Sid Smart    
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Rex E. Larsen    
Larsen Family Farms

Sterling Brown    
Utah Farm Bureau


Bryce Armstrong    
Utah County Planning

David Hanson    
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Dean Miner    
USU Extension Service

Dennis Marker    
City of Santaquin

Gene Shawcroft    
Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Mark Gibbons    
Farm Service Agency

Alan Matheson    
Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Mayor Bert Wilson     
City of Lehi

Bill Peperone    
Provo City

Bracken Davis    
Utah Department of Agriculture & Food

Brandon Stocksdale    Orem City

Brenda Wadley    
Wadley Family Farm

Cameron Gunter    
PEG Development

Casey Houwelings    
Houweling’s Tomatoes

Calvin Crandall    
Utah County Farm Bureau

Mayor Christopher Pengra
Eagle Mountain City

Senator Curt Bramble
Utah State Senate

Curtis Rowley    
Cherry Hill Farms

Daniel Gunnell    
Timp-Nebo Conservation District

Representative Dave Lifferth
Utah State House of Representatives

Dave Conine    

Dave Robbins
Utah County Farm Bureau

David Ure    
Summit County Council

Deanna McCoard
McCoard’s Garden Center

Debbie Cloward
Allred Orchards

Becky Ellsworth
Allred Orchards

Don Jarvis
Provo City

Mayor Don N. Watkins
City of Alpine

Don Sleight
AgReserve Inc.

Evan Curtis
Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget

Mayor Fred Jensen
Town of Goshen

Garrick Hall
Utah Farm Bureau

Mayor Gary Gygi
City of Cedar Hills

George Handley

Mayor Hal Shelley
Elk Ridge City

Mayor Howard Anderson
Town of Cedar Fort

Jake Harward
Harward Farms

Mayor James Hadfield
City of American Fork

Jason Bateman
Bateman Dairy

Mayor Jeff Acerson
Lindon City

Mayor Jim Miller     
City of Saratoga Springs

John Bennett
Utah Quality Growth Commission

Mayor John Curtis
City of Provo

Julie Clifford
Clifford Family Farm

Kalei Robbins
Utah County Farm Bureau

Katelyn Robbins
Payson FFA Chapter

Representative Keven Stratton
Utah House of Representatives

Kim Christy

Mayor Kirk Hunsaker
City of Santaquin

Kurt Bunnell
Bunnell Farms

Representative Lee Perry
Utah House of Representatives

Mayor Lonny Ward
Town of Genola

Senator Mark Madsen
Utah State Senate

Mayor Mike Daniels
Pleasant Grove City

Mike Larsen
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Nathan Ivie     
Ivie Ranch

Senator Ralph Okerlund
Utah State Senate

Mayor Randy Brailsford
Salem City

Mayor Randy Farnworth
Town of Vineyard

Randy Parker    
Farm Bureau

Rex Larsen
Larsen Family Farms

Mayor Richard Brunst
City of Orem

Richard C Wilkerson
Wilkerson Farm

Richard L Behling
Behling Insurance Agency

Mayor Rick Moore    
Payson City

Robert Redd
Cattle Rancher

Rona Rahlf
Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce

Scott McLachlan
River Jordan Mink Farm

Scott Schmidt
Fruit Grower

Shawn Miller

Shawn Seager
Mountainland Association of Governments

Sterling Rees
US Department of Agriculture

Mayor Steve Lauritzen
City of Woodland Hills

Mayor Steve Leifson
City of Spanish Fork

Taylor Oldroyd
Utah Central Association of Realtors

Val Hale    
Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Wayne Bradshaw    
Utah Department of Agriculture & Food

Senator Wayne Niederhauser
Utah State Senate

Wes Crandall
Farm Bureau

Michael D. Larsen
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Matt Packard
Central Bank

Michael Cundick
Artists for Local Agriculture

Britton Ercanbreck
Orchard Owner

Warren Peterson
Farmland Reserve Inc.

Charity Jessop
Utah Open Lands

Tonia Fuller
Utah Woolgrowers Association

Jenn Harrison
Dairy Council of Utah & Nevada


The City of Provo

The Nature Conservancy

Utah County

Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Utah Farm Bureau

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Central Bank

Mountainland Association of Governments

Dairy Council of Utah and Nevada

Utah County Farm Bureau

Allred Orchards

Farmland Reserve Inc.