Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Utah Ag Industry Tackles Tough Issues At Annual Convention

Julia Ritchey
A dairy processing plant in Weber County, Utah.

Farmers and ranchers from across the state are gathering for the annual Utah Farm Bureau convention this week in Layton.

Farm Bureau leaders will address some of the most pressing agricultural issues and policies in the state. That includes water rights, food taxes, public lands and grazing issue, and immigration.

Ron Gibson is the president of the Utah Farm Bureau. He says the labor shortage is an especially big problem right now.

“It’s very, very difficult for us in the dairy industry to find workers that can come from other countries to help us get our job done," he says. "It is extremely hard to find workers that are here in the country already to milk cows and take care of our animals.”

The H2A visa program is one way for farmers to get workers. It’s designed to bring foreign workers in the country for seasonal jobs. But one of the challenges, according to Gibson, is that some industries, like dairy, are not seasonal and therefore don’t qualify.

“You know we do not support illegal immigration, but at the same time there is no current structure in place for farmers and ranchers to get those helpers here.”

Gibson says Congress needs to act, and that it’s time to address the issue and find a reliable workforce for Utah’s agricultural sector. 

The 101st Farm Bureau Convention runs through Friday. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz will be recognized at a gala that night with the 'Friend of Agriculture Award.' 

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.