Search Menu
Menu »
Home » Archive by category 'News'

UDAF Requests Public Comment for Upcoming Specialty Crop Block Grant Application Cycle

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is seeking public  comment for the upcoming Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) application cycle,  which will be open from February 26 – April 5, 2024. The SCBGP is a competitive grant program  operated by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to administer federal funds from the  USDA Agricultural Marketing Service; this grant is open to farmers, private businesses, schools,  trade associations, non-profits, farming and ranching co-ops, etc. headquartered in Utah.  Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, and nursery  crops (including floriculture). 

In 2024, $342,390 will be awarded for projects designed to enhance the competitiveness of  Utah-grown specialty crops by (1) leveraging efforts to market & promote specialty crops; (2)  assisting producers with research & development relevant to specialty crops; (3) expanding  availability & access to specialty crops; and (4) addressing local, regional, & national challenges  confronting specialty crop producers.  

UDAF is requesting public input on the following issues impacting Utah’s specialty crop industry  for this year’s application cycle. This input will help shape the ranking and rating criteria  priorities to maximize benefit for Utah’s specialty crop industry.  

  • Enhancing food safety;
  • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (21 U.S.C. Chapter 27)
  • Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; 
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
  • Pest and disease control;
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; and
  • Sustainability.

Please submit comments by February 23, 2024 at 12pm by email to: aross@utah.gov with the subject line “PUBLIC COMMENT.”

For more information, contact Allison Ross at aross@utah.gov or visit: ag.utah.gov/specialty-crop-block-grant-program.


UDAF Seeks Applicants for Grant Application Scoring Committee 

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is seeking qualified volunteers for the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) and the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program review committees. Applicants may apply to sit on one or both  committees. By joining a review committee, volunteers gain firsthand knowledge of the peer  review process and become an integral part of the grant award process. Reviewing can help  volunteers become more familiar with the grant process and be better prepared for their own  applications in the future. 

UDAF is especially interested in committee members who are: 

  • members of the agricultural community in the Utah
  • members of the food industry in Utah (producers, restaurant owners, etc.) educators with an emphasis on either agriculture or food
  • familiar with federal grant processes

Reviews will be completed digitally on each volunteer’s schedule between April 8 and 19, 2024  for the RFSI program, and between April 12 and 24, 2024, for the SCBG program. Review  criteria will be provided with the applications. Reviewers should expect multiple applications to  review and should be aware that there will be a likely time commitment of 2-3 hours a week. A  final review meeting may be held if it is determined to be necessary.  

For anyone interested in becoming a reviewer, please contact Allison Ross at aross@utah.gov and include “SCORING COMMITTEE” in the email subject line by March 24, 2024. Selected  applicants will be notified by March 31, 2024.


UDAF Launches $3 Million RFSI Grant Program

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has been awarded $3,040,043.28 through the USDA AMS Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program, which aims to build resilience in the middle of the food supply chain, provide more and better markets to small farms and food businesses, and support the development of value-added products for consumers.


“The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is excited for the opportunities for our producers that the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure grant funding will bring,” said UDAF Commissioner, Craig Buttars. “Programs like this make a tremendous difference in our state’s ability to support the economic viability of farms and food businesses and keep legacy farms in operation. Increasing in-state processing as well as distribution and storage capacity are among our state’s greatest needs. We look forward to seeing the improvements this funding will make.” 

UDAF will be issuing $2,310,934.44 in two rounds of competitive subaward grants to support the development of middle-of-the-supply-chain activities for Utah-based food and farm activities. The first round of applications will go until the end of March, and any remaining funds will be issued in a second round in spring of 2025. UDAF will also be hiring a full-time Supply Chain Coordinator to address critical gaps in the state. Middle-of-the-supply chain includes activities that happen after production, but before they reach the market or end-consumer and may include the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products. Eligible food products include fruits and vegetables, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products (excluding meat and poultry products and animal feed products). Applicants may either apply for the equipment-only simplified project track or the infrastructure project track. 

UDAF will prioritize projects that support the modernizing or improving of distribution, processing and/or manufacturing equipment, projects that will construct new facilities, and projects that will improve water efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or improve air/water quality related to processing, as well as projects led by new and beginning farmers, or historically underserved farmers and ranchers. 

The grant application window for the first round of funding is open February 7 through March 31.  To apply, visit ag.utah.gov/rfsi. For more information, contact Allison Ross at aross@utah.gov.


Announcing the 2nd Biannual Soil Health in the West Conference

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) Soil Health Program is excited to announce the 2nd Biannual Soil Health in the West Conference being held in St. George, UT at the Dixie Convention Center on February 6-8, 2024.


“The importance of maintaining healthy soils is not a strange concept to Utah’s farmers and
ranchers. UDAF’s Soil Health Program has been working to expand these efforts since its
creation in 2021.” said Craig Buttars, UDAF Commissioner. “The Soil Health in the West
Conference is a great way to share information about soil health practices and resources with
producers in Utah and throughout the Western United States.”


The Soil Health in the West Conference brings together world experts and regional soil health practitioners under one roof for a multi-day learning and networking opportunity unlike any other in the Western United States. Partnering with the Utah Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), UDAF puts on this conference to educate farmers and ranchers and inspire them to better understand the key role soil plays in the success of our agriculture systems.


“Research is showing that by implementing the six soil health principles using practices such as
no-till and cover crops we can make farms resilient to weather extremes like drought and flood
while increasing profitability through reduction in input costs.” said Tony Richards UDAF Soil
Health Program Manager. “Healthy soils capture and store more water, better cycle nutrients,
and are protected against erosion.”


This year’s conference will bring 29 different speakers covering topics from livestock grazing and soil health to soil health and its impact on water availability.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Alejandro Carrillo – is a fourth-generation rancher in the Chihuahuan desert. Rarely does his precipitation go beyond 9” per year (< 230mm). Every drop counts to grow more and better grasses and forbs. He is not willing to waste any water in such a brittle environment if he wants to graze year-round without inputs.
  • Joel Saltin – is a farmer, author, speaker, and mentor who is as comfortable moving cows in a pasture as he is addressing CEOs in a Wall Street business conference. He co-owns Polyface Farm with his family in Swoope, Virginia. He has written over a dozen books, serves as the editor of The Stockton Grass Farmer, and co-hosts the Beyond Labels foodscape research podcast. When he’s not on the road speaking, Joel is at home on the farm, keeping the calluses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails mentoring young people, inspiring visitors, and promoting local, regenerative food and farming systems.

Other speakers include farmers and ranchers from around the region including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. For more information and to register for the conference, visit utahsoilhealth.org/events/2024-conference.


More on Soil Health:

In Utah’s desert environment implementing soil principles such as keeping the soil covered has shown a decrease in soil temperatures as much as 40°F reducing water loss from evaporation in some cases to zero. Managing a farm for soil health can increase the organic matter content of the soil by sequestering carbon; each 1% increase in soil organic matter increases the soil water holding capacity by 16,000 to 24,000 gallons per acre.

Six Principles of Soil Health:

1. Know Your Context
2. Minimize Disturbance
3. Keep the Soil Covered
4. Maximize Biodiversity
5. Keep a Living Root
6. Integrate Livestock


Wolf Reintroduction Frequently Asked Questions

Five wolves were reintroduced in Colorado earlier this week. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, along with The Division of Wildlife Resources and U.S fish & Wildlife, will be working together to develop plans in case the wolves cross over into Utah. It’s important to note that wolves that cross into Utah cannot be killed and are listed as endangered species nationwide. In the event of a wolf preying on livestock, the protocol is to contact one of UDAF’s trappers who will locate, capture, and relocate the wolf back to Colorado.

Watch the video below to learn more: