The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has awarded $386,242 across five projects in Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBGP) in an effort to support Utah’s specialty crop industry.
SCBGP is a competitive grant program operated by UDAF in which funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarded to eligible applicants. Funded programs support Utah’s specialty crop industry, which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture, among others.
“The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is grateful for the ongoing support of the USDA AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” said UDAF Commissioner Craig Buttars “Through this funding, our department is proud to provide opportunities for farmers, food processors and distributors, agricultural researchers, and other organizations dedicated to strengthening Utah’s specialty crop industry. Utah has a vested interest in ensuring the continued success of these operations, and funding from programs like this is one way we can provide meaningful financial support to the producers we depend upon.”
UDAF is pleased to support projects that will increase specialty crop education for the public and beginning farmers. In addition, funded projects will maximize sustainable production using alternative water sources, promote increased awareness of Utah-grown tree fruits, and learn more about irrigation needs in the state. The link to the USDA press release can be found here.
UDAF will be offering more SCBGP grants in the future. The next round of applications is expected to open in February 2024, with applications due in mid-March. For more info visit https://ag.utah.gov/specialty-crop-block-grant-program or email Allison Ross at email@example.com
Officials at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food are warning livestock purchasers of potential scams with online livestock purchases as has been seen in surrounding states.
“Our department has been made aware of scammers taking advantage of livestock buyers, purchasing livestock from online classified listing sources in surrounding states such as Colorado,” said UDAF Animal Division Director, Leann Hunting. “We want buyers in Utah to be aware of these potential scams and know how to identify them.”
Buyers should be cautious when purchasing animals online when not purchasing from a reputable auction house or face to face with the seller. Scammers often ask for payment or partial payment before allowing you to see the animals. Never send payment without in-person verification that the listing is real and accurate. If the seller is not open to an in-person viewing, know that this could be a scammer.
Scams could potentially be higher this year, especially for cattle, due to the higher market prices for these animals. Cattle prices rose to the highest since 2014-15 in July of 2023 and are continuing to rise according to data provided by local auction houses in Utah and Idaho.
Buyers should also be aware that all livestock sales require an official brand inspection by UDAF. If the seller does not arrange a brand inspection, this could also be a sign of a scam or the selling of stolen livestock. If you have experienced this type of scam, contact your local law enforcement office to report the offense. For more information about brand inspections or to find your local brand inspector, visit ag.utah.gov/farmers/animal-industry.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is pleased to announce the creation of the Big Horn Sheep Coordinator position in conjunction with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) to help protect the growth of the indigenous wild sheep populations in Utah and prevent the spread of disease in domestic sheep and goats. Current UDAF employee, Phil Crowther, has been selected to fill this position.
“Protecting both wild and domestic sheep and goat populations from intermingling and spreading disease is the goal of this program and we feel Phil Crowther is a great choice to bridge the gap between wildlife coordinators and livestock producers” said Leann Hunting, UDAF director of Animal Industry.
The Big Horn Sheep Coordinator will seek out domestic sheep and goat producers in proximity to occupied and unoccupied bighorn sheep habitat and will work with producers to reduce the risk of disease transmission while providing mutual benefit to producers and their livestock.
Phil Crowther has been serving and will continue to serve as the Domestic Elk Program manager and has experience working with domestic and indigenous wildlife and will be able to further use his experience to improve the situation with wild and domestic sheep and goats.
If you are a producer of domestic sheep and goats and would like to be part of this program or have a concern about contact with wild sheep and goats, please contact the Animal Industry Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has been awarded $3,043,040 through the USDA AMS Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program. The purpose of the RFSI program is to build resilience in the middle of the food supply chain, to improve markets for small farms and food businesses, to support the development of value-added products for consumers, and develop new job opportunities.
“We are excited to continue to improve Utah’s food supply chain through this new RFSI grant program,” said Caroline Hargraves, Director of Marketing and Economic Development for UDAF. “This is a great opportunity to serve small-to-mid sized producers and food businesses and address the significant processing and distribution gaps in our local food supply chain.”
Through this program UDAF will be issuing competitive sub-award grants to support the development of the middle-of-the-supply-chain for Utah-based food and farm businesses. Grant projects may include activities that support the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products. Eligible food products include dairy, grains for human consumption, fruits and vegetables, aquaculture, and other food products (excluding meat and poultry products and animal feed products). The grant application window is anticipated to open in late 2023 or early 2024.
UDAF is seeking public input via a brief online survey to help determine priorities for this program. The survey will be open through August 18, 2023.
To complete this survey and sign up for updates about this program, please visit https://tinyurl.com/RFSI-Survey-Utah. Learn more at ag.utah.gov/rfsi.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Spring 2023 Agriculture Water Optimization Grant. This round funded 93 projects, totaling over $20 million in grant money awarded.
“We are excited to continue the charge to help Utah’s farmers and ranchers better optimize their water use on their farms,” said Agricultural Water Optimization program manager, Hannah Freeze. “The response from the agricultural producers to optimize and save water has continued to grow with each application period for this program, showing they are stepping up to be part of the solution.”
The newly funded 93 projects have an estimated water savings of 61,599 acre feet of water annually. All of the previously funded projects to date have an estimated yearly water savings of 172,847 acre feet or over 56 billion gallons of water.
The $20 million awarded to the Spring 2023 applicants was provided by the Utah Legislature in the 2022 legislative session as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds provided to the state of Utah. Additional funds were appropriated for this program in the 2023 legislative session and future application periods will be available.
The Agricultural Water Optimization program was initially funded in the 2019 Legislative Session with the purpose of reducing consumptive water use while maintaining or improving agriculture production; improving water quantification to provide real-time, accurate measurements; and to improve and protect surface and ground water quality by reducing the overwatering of crops.
Recipients can receive up to $500,000 for their projects and a 50/50 cost share is required. For additional information on grant and application requirements, please visit https://ag.utah.gov/ag-water-optimization.