Agriculture protection designation fails farmers

Tuesday , June 12, 2018 - 12:00 AM

DAILY HERALD (PROVO) EDITORIAL BOARD

In a county burgeoning with growth, a Utah County farm pursued a curious path to remove its agriculture protection area status. It was approved by the commissioners last week.

Why would a Utah farm seek removal of guaranteed protections?

Harassment, for one.

The 10-acre Dixon Mink Ranch has operated in Lehi since 1986 and has been under agricultural protection since 1998, long before neighborhoods were erected and developments sold to newcomers. In fact, there were only a handful of homes in the area when the farm began operations.

The removal of a 20-year protection will not mean this Lehi family’s farm is going anywhere, though. The land is zoned agricultural regardless of extra protections, so the Dixon mink farm will remain as long as it chooses to do so.

There is something wrong with policies if they do the opposite of what they’re created for. Rather than protect dwindling animal husbandry and agricultural operations in Utah County, this protection status actually hurt the Dixon farm, enough that this multi-generation farming family sought its removal.

If protections are not working, they should be re-evaluated and updated so they may do so. Protecting agricultural area shouldn’t be “emotional and “traumatic.”

Neighbors have complained about the flies and smell to the owners, the city and the county for several years now. We do not dispute the fact these conditions exist. There are flies. And the smell can, at times, be nauseating.

But, Lehi’s new residents cannot bully a farm into moving or closing its business operation because they chose to move in its proximity decades later and then find it inconvenient.

It’s as absurd as a resident choosing to move to Ogden and purchasing a home within Weber State University’s campus housing radius, and then complain afterward to the city and university that they are surrounded by annoying college students and their sea of cars and empty Mountain Dew bottles.

The Dixon mink farm, in particular, has taken many precautions and routes to minimize impact to new neighbors, including implementing multiple avenues of fly control, using commercial grade pesticides, maintaining fields to minimize weeds and not stacking new manure.

Over the years, the farm has passed inspections, met with political leaders and Health Department personnel in efforts to express goodwill toward neighbors.

Not only does it follow protocols, but it’s award winning while doing so.

As Utah County’s population continues its projected path to double in the next 40 years, the area’s agricultural landscape will undoubtedly be impacted. Some farmers will remain and hold tight to their land and industry. Others may sell and move on, providing space for developers to build out more and more homes.

This growth, however, does not mean that we have to sacrifice all industries that are a part of Utah’s business history like agriculture and animal husbandry. We need them, in addition to Silicon Slopes. Our economy and communities are strongest when they are diverse.

We must find a way to strike a balance and find harmony in the rural and urban.

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