Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ag will survive with hard work, good ideas, Lt. Gov. Bell says

“With hard work and good ideas” agriculture can survive, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell told the eighth annual Diversified Agriculture Conference Monday at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.

Statistics from a 2008 Utah State University study showed that Utah’s agricultural sector creates an economic output of $15.5 billion annually, nearly 14 percent of Utah’s economy, providing over 66,000 jobs and contributing 350 million in state and local taxes.
The study showed that two-thirds of Utah’s agricultural receipts are generated by seven counties, including Sanpete and neighboring Millard County. Although agriculture remains strong in Utah’s economy, Bell thinks options should be explored, including interacting with the state’s tourist industry. He noted that national and international tourism is increasing in Utah again, and said he believes all sectors could benefit from a cooperative effort to provide recreational activities for tourists. “People want adventure, excitement, interaction…We need to get them out of the bus to spend money,” Bell said, urging the agricultural community to find ways to interface with the tourist market.

Population trends predict the estimated three million Wasatch front residents will balloon to nearly seven million by the year 2060. Although growth should be slower in rural areas, future agricultural areas will need to be preserved from encroaching urbanization. “We need to be careful that subdivisions don’t drive agriculture out,” Bell said.

The Diversified Agricultural Conference is an annual event sponsored by the Utah State University Cooperative Extension in partnership with several state, county and federal organizations. Additional information concerning agricultural issues is available from the university, and the lieutenant governor encouraged people to tap the state’s resources if they need them. If anyone has a good business idea, financial help is available through programs such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Economic Development Corporation Utah (EDCU.) “We’ll do anything possible to help you,” Bell said. http://sanpetemessenger.com/stories/2-23-2011/news4.html