The following questions were asked of Republican Primary candidates for the U.S. House for District 3. Responses were only received for incumbent JR Bird, John Dougall, Mike Kennedy, Case Lawrence, and Stewart Peay.

The Utah Farm Bureau reached out to candidates for the 2024 Republican Party Primaries for U.S. House District 3. There were no democratic primaries in this race. Utah Farm Bureau does not endorse candidates, and simply provides these answers to questions to help voters when making election decisions. In some instances, campaigns did not respond to the questionnaire. Utah Farm Bureau will attempt to provide updated questionnaires once candidates are decided for the general election.



TAX POLICY

Agriculture operates in a world of uncertainty. From unpredictable national situations to commodity and product market instabilities to fluctuating input prices, from natural disasters and damaging weather events to insect or disease outbreaks, running a farm or ranch business is challenging under the best of circumstances. Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that provides certainty and recognizes their unique financial challenges.

In Congress, what provisions would you support to help farmers and ranchers remain on the land and producing food, fuel and fiber?

Dougall: Agriculture operates in a world of uncertainty. From unpredictable national situations to market instabilities, fluctuating input prices, natural disasters, and disease outbreaks, running a farm or ranch is challenging even in the best of times. Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that provides certainty and acknowledges their unique financial challenges.

In Congress, I would support free-market solutions that:

  • Cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and alleviate tax reporting and bookkeeping burdens.
  • Permanently expand and increase Section 179 expensing limit, allowing farmers and ranchers to immediately deduct the cost of equipment and property rather than depreciating it over several years.
  • Ensure consistent treatment of agricultural cooperatives, regardless of structure.
  • Simplify and reform estate tax provisions to make it easier for family farms and ranches to be passed down to the next generation.
  • Expand tax-deferred savings options which stop punishing those relying on fluctuating agricultural incomes to save for retirement or disaster mitigation.
  • Promote market-based solutions in agriculture involves leveraging the principles of free-market economics to enhance efficiency, innovation, and productivity while minimizing government intervention.
  • Promote free trade and reduce tariffs and trade barriers that hinder the export of agricultural products. By opening up international markets, farmers and ranchers can access a broader customer base, which can lead to higher profits and more stable income streams.
  • Ensure the U.S. tax code does not favor multinational corporation farms over small family-run farms.

By implementing these provisions, we can help farmers and ranchers thrive, ensuring they continue to produce food, fuel, and fiber for our nation while embracing the principles of a free-market economy.


Peay: I would support regulatory and tax reform to provide agriculture with additional certainty to produce food, fuel, and fiber. I also believe that we need regulatory reform to ensure U.S. agriculture producers remain competitive within a global marketplace.


Kennedy: During my public service, I have consistently defended our state’s farmers and ranchers as they perform their foundational function for society. The instability of nature and society are constant threats to their ability to provide food, fuel, and fiber for the rest of us. Considering this, my first policy priority is to maintain low tax rates on land and the necessary inputs to farm that land.

Life, liberty, and property are the most important protections our Constitution promotes. In my view, property taxes are the most burdensome form of taxation because they undermine true land ownership. If a person fails to pay, they risk losing their land. I will promote low taxes overall, and as a state senator, I have worked to lower state property taxes. Additionally, we should reduce taxes on diesel fuel, seed, farm equipment, fertilizer, and other essential inputs to ease the financial strain on our farmers and ranchers.

One significant burden on farmers and ranchers is the federal estate tax, commonly known as the "death tax." This tax can force families to sell off parts of their farms or ranches just to pay the government. I strongly support eliminating the federal estate tax to ensure that family farms can be passed down through generations without this crippling financial burden.

I also support providing low-interest loans to help family farms acquire the necessary equipment and resources for their operations. When disaster strikes, in whatever form it may take, the federal government has a role in helping our farmers and ranchers get back on their feet so they can continue to produce the essential goods our country relies on.

Finally, I pledge to maintain an open line of communication with the farming and ranching community. Whether in Washington, D.C. or back home in the district, I will always be available and ready to listen to your ideas on how we can champion and better support the agricultural community. Your insights are crucial for crafting policies that enhance the sustainability and prosperity of our agricultural sector.


Bird: I am an ag producer myself and as I’ve traveled around the third district, I regularly hear about the difficulties of running a family ag operation. Generally speaking, more certainty when it comes to tax policy equals more prosperity. We continue to see a tax policy pendulum swing from administration to administration. With an increasingly shrinking number of producers supplying goods to the masses, I support reforms to make producing more affordable and viable for future generations.

I would support making the 2017 TCJA tax cuts that have saved American farmers billions in federal tax liability permanent. Included in that would be the provisions to transfer farm property to future generations, free from federal estate tax.

With the cost of machinery and farm ground increasing, we need to make sure that other tax credits for these types of acquisitions increase to follow inflationary trends such as the section 179 expense deductions, and the special depreciation allowance. I have used these deductions as an ag producer, and know and understand the importance of making sure they continue to be available for those who are working hard to feed American families. I would also look at additional ways to incentivize future generations to become farmers, I feel it is a fading industry, and I’m grateful for the efforts I’ve seen Farm Bureau make to encourage youth to become educated and interested in farming.


Lawrence: I support a tax code that reduces burdens while remaining predictable and adaptable to changing circumstances. I aim to incentivize Utah's hardworking farmers and ranchers. To safeguard our agricultural industry, I will advocate for increased subsidies and grants. Federal incentives and programs promoting sustainable practices, combined with fair market access for local operations, will help Utah farmers and ranchers manage risk, protect their businesses, and stimulate growth.


REGULATORY REFORM

All Americans have an interest in a regulatory process that is transparent and fact-based, respects the will of Congress, and observes the separation of powers in the Constitution. Federal regulations have a direct impact on farmers and ranchers, and over the years, the breadth and extent of that regulatory landscape have changed.

What actions would you take to ensure that the federal government’s regulatory burden on businesses such as farming and ranching is consistent with congressional intent? Would you support regulatory reform to ensure that federal regulations meet a cost/benefit test and make the process of writing new regulations more transparent, and if so, how?

Peay: Congress needs to reassert itself as the legislative body the Framers intended. As your member of Congress, I will not support or propose legislation that gives federal agencies latitude or discretion to operate outside of congressional intent. Elected officials, not unelected bureaucrats, represent the American people best.


Kennedy: Chevron deference has been judicially present for forty years now. I have written an op/ed on this subject, referenced here.

In summary, the courts should not grant deference to every regulatory agency in every decision they make. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will soon strike down Chevron deference. Once this happens, many regulations we have all had to live with may be challenged and overturned if there is no clear legislative intent that the regulation is what Congress intended. When Congress delegates its responsibility to be clear and specific in legislation to agency bureaucrats Congress fails to do its job. This often results in uncertainty for the American people and hampers business growth as regulations can change depending on the party in power.

As a state senator, I have worked to draft legislation clearly and precisely to prevent unelected bureaucrats from interpreting or effectuating the intent of my legislation. I will continue this approach at the federal level. If it is not clear how to move policy objectives forward, I will not promote or support such legislation.

Furthermore, the REINS Act is an opportunity for Congress to regain control over what sometimes becomes an out-of-control federal bureaucracy intent on politicizing the vital work that farmers and ranchers do. I strongly support the REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve any regulation that will cost society more than $100 million.

Additionally, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has imposed significant burdens on farmers and ranchers by expanding federal jurisdiction over various bodies of water, often including small streams and ditches on private land. I support efforts to roll back WOTUS to ensure that farmers and ranchers are not unfairly regulated and can manage their land without excessive federal interference.

Finally, we should investigate and potentially reduce funding for any agency that goes beyond the most basic responsibilities it has been given by the legislature. This demands accountability by ensuring that federal regulations are consistent with congressional intent, meet a cost/benefit test, and are developed through a transparent process.


Bird: Studies have shown that unnecessary regulations are an estimated $1 Trillion drag on our economy. Federal overreach particularly in agriculture is no exception. Many executive agencies have long surpassed their original congressional intent and as a member of Congress, I would use the power of the purse to cut back agencies to that original intent. Where I’m from in the Uinta basin there are a lot of dairy operations and using them as an example, there are an incredible number of regulations that increase the costs of producing dairy products - I pledge to take a fine tooth comb and work with industry leaders to identify unnecessary regulations that have no impact on safety, drive up the cost of doing business, which in turn drives up the cost to the consumer, and make it harder for farmers to be profitable.


Lawrence: I will work to cut burdensome federal regulations in order to give Utah farmers and ranchers the opportunity to succeed on their land. I will push back on federal agencies' attempts to legislate through bureaucratic rulemaking, insisting specific laws be passed through Congress. In another effort to lift the federal government’s regulatory burden, I will push for transparency by defining clearly any remaining regulatory limits pertaining to agriculture. I will support enforcing a cost-benefit analysis and regular congressional oversight which are important in maintaining transparency and accountability of federal agencies.


Dougall: Federal regulations add trillions of dollars of costs on top of our already expensive tax burden. All Americans have an interest in a regulatory process that is transparent and fact-based, respects the will of Congress, and observes the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution. Federal regulations have a direct impact on farmers and ranchers, and over the years, the breadth and extent of the regulatory landscape have changed and expanded. Congress has granted too much authority to federal regulators and then that dysfunctional Congress fails to oversee and rein in those regulators, allowing them to run amok throughout the economy. Congress has two key duties: budgeting and oversight. It’s failing at both. Budgeting and oversight are my expertise. I support:

  • Limiting the scope and reach of the federal government. Congress has discrete and limited duties. Congress must stop granting broad authorities to federal agencies.
  • Ensuring that limited regulations align with legislative intent, preventing executive overreach
  • Passing the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which requires major regulations to receive congressional approval before taking effect.
  • Increasing transparency, like with the Regulatory Accountability Act, requiring more thorough economic analysis, and improving the regulatory process.
  • Eliminating Chevron Deference. Courts should not be overly deferential to executive bureaucrats when interpreting rules and regulations.
  • Market regulation over government regulation and state regulation over federal regulation.
  • Eliminating domestic regulations that favor foreign suppliers over domestic suppliers.
  • Ensuring a strong financial market so that farmers can get the credit they need.
  • Eliminating federal regulations and policies that favor multinational conglomerates over small and medium-sized farms.
  • Eliminating agricultural subsidies which distort the market and distort wise farming practices.
  • Protecting property rights and reducing regulatory burdens that can impede the ability of farmers and ranchers to make decisions that best suit their operations.
  • Ensuring U.S. regulatory policies stop favoring multinational corporation farms over small family-run farms

By taking these actions, we can ensure that federal regulations are fair, transparent, and aligned with congressional intent, ultimately reducing the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers while promoting economic growth and innovation.


ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

Privately owned land provides habitat for the majority of our nation’s endangered and threatened species. As a result, landowners often face harsh regulatory restrictions on their ability to use the land or, worse, lawsuits or enforcement actions. Meanwhile, few species have actually been recovered under the law.

Is it time to think about incentive-based programs that create a positive role for landowners in species recovery? What recommendations do you have for reforming the Endangered Species Act, and what role would you assign America’s landowners?

Kennedy: Property rights are a foundational component of our Republic. However, with out-of-control bureaucrats and non-specific legislation, many agencies are violating property rights in significant ways. The EPA’s standard on the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) is a prime example of overbroad interpretation by an agency of legislation written in an ambiguous fashion. This can lead to untoward results where landowners cannot use their land in the most basic of ways.

In Utah specifically, we have had challenges with species such as the Prairie Dog and June Sucker, which have made it difficult to use private and public lands for the good of the people. Care for the environment must be balanced with the needs of society. The standard of proof for a species to be placed on the endangered list should be high. Additionally, the government should work with landowners in a positive, productive fashion to protect species that may be threatened.

Incentive-based programs could create a positive role for landowners in species recovery. This could include payments to landowners to facilitate protections, as well as reducing or eliminating taxes on the land if it is proven that such protections are necessary. Overall, I believe a cost/benefit analysis should be done in every case of a listing on the Endangered Species Act. When the cost exceeds the benefit, the advocates for protection should privately fund preservation efforts.

By working collaboratively with landowners, we can develop solutions that both protect endangered species and respect property rights. This approach ensures that conservation efforts are effective and that landowners are recognized as key partners in the process.

Bird: It is past time to look at incentive based programs to create a positive role for landowners in species recovery. Farmers and Ranchers are already being disproportionately affected by the ESA, and the Biden administration’s doubling down on ESA and expanding federal overreach and rolling back reforms such as the 4(d) rule, is a massive threat to farming productivity, efficiency, and profitability. It’s a slap in the face to the extensive voluntary efforts already underway, and undermines the farmers ability to maximize production, while being good stewards of the land.

One of the greatest threats in the current ESA is the ability for private special interest groups to sue those they allege are in violation of the act. I have seen this with our public lands in Utah, with organizations like SUWA suing to shut down public lands for grazing, trails, recreation and mineral extraction. I will fight back against these forms of federal overreach and work with landowners, farmers, and ranchers to create win-win solution that will roll back unnecessary regulations, incentivize and subsidize farmers who potentially provide habitat for endangered species, and allow them to utilize their land to its full potential.


Lawrence: Yes, I support incentive-based programs for landowners. The federal government should provide tax credits or deductions to landowners/farmers engaging in conservation practices that aid in species recovery. We can reform the Endangered Species Act in an effort to incorporate both incentive-based and collaborative approaches with all stakeholders. I will ensure the involvement of landowners and farmers in the decision-making process because localized efforts are more adaptable to the needs of our communities, while also respecting private property rights. We must work to tailor programs and cut financial costs wherever possible as well.


Dougall: I believe the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is unconstitutional. While Congress claims to justify it primarily under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, I believe Congress has recklessly exceeded reasonable constitutional limitations of the Commerce Clause to justify almost any regulation. And if it needs another justification, Congress jumps to the Tax and Spend Clause to bribe compliance with its dictates.

But if the ESA persists, then it is indeed time to consider incentive-based programs that create a positive role for landowners in species recovery. Engaging landowners as partners in conservation efforts can lead to more effective and sustainable outcomes for endangered and threatened species.

  • The government must compensate property owners for takings. I believe restrictions associated with the ESA are effectively a taking, so the property owner must be fairly compensated.
  • Landowners could be incented to restore habitat, take protective measures, and engage in land management practices that benefit endangered species.
  • Landowners could be compensated to expand the population of endangered species.
  • Conservation easements may allow landowners to partner with others to voluntarily agree to restrict land use in ways that benefit wildlife. In return, they receive financial compensation or tax benefits.
  • Promote Safe Harbor Agreements, which provide assurances to landowners that they will not face additional restrictions if they take actions to benefit endangered species. This can reduce the fear of regulatory consequences and encourage proactive conservation efforts.
  • Simplify and clarify the regulatory requirements under the ESA. Clear guidelines and consistent enforcement can reduce the burden on landowners and increase compliance.
  • Shift the focus of the ESA from simply preventing extinction to actively recovering species and restoring their habitats. This can involve setting clear recovery goals and timelines.

By reforming the ESA to include incentive-based programs and engaging landowners as partners in conservation, we can create a more effective and sustainable approach to species recovery. Landowners play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing habitats, and with the right support and incentives, they can be key contributors to the conservation of our nation’s endangered and threatened species.


Peay: We need more incentive-based solutions from Congress. This is an important issue and one that I would work closely on with Utah Farm Bureau and other stakeholders.


AGRICULTURAL LABOR

Farmers and ranchers need a reliable, skilled workforce. Farm work is challenging, often seasonal and transitory, and with fewer and fewer Americans growing up on the farm, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find American workers attracted to these kinds of jobs. Farm labor can’t all be replaced by machines, either.

What role can Congress play in addressing the critical labor shortages that many farmers and ranchers face each year? How optimistic are you on finding workable (and passable) solutions to the labor crisis?

Bird: I regularly speak with ag producers from around the third district - including from my hometown in Roosevelt - about the critical need for more labor. In my area, dairy farmers are the most affected by the labor shortage. I’m a huge proponent for reworking the H2A & H2B visa programs to allow for more seasonal workers. The nature of immigration is changing and many seasonal workers would like to return to their country of origin at the conclusion of their contract.

We also need to look at reforming immigration laws that would simplify the process to allow good honest people to come to our country. Both of these efforts need to be tied to economic indicators and should be able to fluctuate based on workforce demand.

Another major aspect is educating the rising generation about the farming industry through programs like FFA. Education is key in helping the youth understand the critical role that our farmers play in the security and well-being of our nation. As has been mentioned, as a member of Congress, I will work to roll back unnecessary regulations, to create an environment where farming can be an appealing and profitable enterprise for future generations. 


Lawrence: Legal immigration is the heart of the American experiment. I will lead an effort to secure a comprehensive, common-sense border security package. I will also lead a new effort to overhaul our broken legal immigration system to ensure that the front door is open to the world’s best and brightest, including agricultural labor, and that the backdoor is permanently closed. I believe we address our critical labor shortages by reforming policies and incentivizing legal immigration.


Dougall: Our country’s immigration system is broken. Legal, hardworking immigrants helped build a strong, vibrant America. Criminal chaos weakens it. Ellis Island exemplified an orderly pathway for immigrants seeking lawful entry to work and pursue the American Dream.

My Ellis Island Immigration plan rests on two pillars: 1) securing the border and 2) fixing legal immigration.

Fixing consists of streamlining Green Card applications, cutting government red tape for a functional temporary worker program, conducting comprehensive background checks, and requiring each immigrant to have a job or a sponsor, ensuring immigrants are not a burden on taxpayers.

  • Simplify and expedite the H-2A visa application process to make it more efficient and less bureaucratic for farmers. This includes reducing paperwork, speeding up approvals, and providing more flexibility in the program.
  • Modify the H-2A program to accommodate year-round agricultural jobs, not just seasonal work. This is crucial for sectors like dairy farming that require consistent labor throughout the year.
  • Develop a new visa category specifically for agricultural workers that allows for longer-term stays and more stability for both workers and employers. This visa should address the unique needs of the agricultural sector and offer pathways to legal status for workers who wish to remain in the U.S. long-term.
  • Consider provisions that allow agricultural workers to bring their families, making these positions more attractive and stable.
  • Eliminate government incentives that encourage potential workers to pursue other employment opportunities.
  • Eliminate government regulations that discourage youth employment.

Congress can play a pivotal role in addressing labor shortages in agriculture through comprehensive immigration reform. We can have immigration policies that keep our communities safe while building a stronger, prosperous, and secure America.


Peay: Congress has a critical role to play in solving this problem. Immigration is the biggest issue facing our country at the moment and requires immediate congressional action and presidential leadership, both of which are currently missing. I am optimistic that sound public policy solutions can be reached if electoral politics can be set aside.


Kennedy: As a youth, I worked various jobs to support myself and put myself through school. My wife and I have continued to teach the importance of honesty and hard work to our eight children. I understand the challenges of hard labor and the importance of a reliable workforce. Our farmers and ranchers face a critical shortage of skilled workers, which threatens their ability to operate effectively.

Congress can play a key role in addressing these labor shortages by reforming immigration laws to ensure that farmers and ranchers can legally and efficiently hire the seasonal and permanent workers they need. I am a strong supporter of legal immigration, and I believe we can cut red tape to make it easier for workers to come to the U.S. to support our agricultural sector. This will benefit our farmers and ranchers by providing a dependable workforce and ensuring that our agricultural operations remain productive and sustainable.

As a proven legislator with experience in passing complex legislation, I am optimistic that we can find workable solutions to the labor crisis in agriculture. I am committed to working collaboratively in Washington, D.C. with anyone who has good ideas and the motivation to solve this problem. By doing so, we can support our farmers and ranchers and ensure they have the labor force necessary to continue their vital work.


PUBLIC LANDS

The federal government often changes policies regarding the management of public lands that impact agriculture and the multiple-use principle of public lands. More than 2/3 of Utah is public land in one form or another.

What will you do in your office to ensure that public lands can be used for the multiple uses they are designed for, including agriculture?

Lawrence: The people of Utah and those closest to our natural resources are the best equipped to be stewards of that land and those resources. Currently, over 65% of Utah’s land is controlled by the Federal Government. We need to stop the commandeering of additional Utah land through unilateral executive action (like the Antiquities Act); we also need to look for opportunities to move land back into the stewardship of the states. In the past, this has usually only been a “one-way” street of land being taken over by the federal government.

I strongly support the recent legislation introduced by our Utah Congressional Delegation to combat Biden’s Public Lands Rule that would allow conservation leases on public lands—potentially by organizations or people outside our State—that would preclude economic use and development of those lands.


Dougall: Whoever controls the land controls the economy. In rural Utah, federal control of public land often controls and disrupts local economies, impacting jobs in ranching, recreation, mining, and energy production. That control can whipsaw with each changing administration This instability challenges communities and schools that rely on local government support while public lands escape paying taxes but demand local government support.

 The federal government should fulfill the promise it made at Utah’s statehood – it should divest itself of federal public lands. My job is to advocate for that outcome while educating members of Congress that it is in their constituents’ best interests.

 The Biden Administration is restricting multiple-use public lands, affecting oil and gas extraction, rare earth element mining, uranium development, ranching, and recreation. I will fight to unleash our public lands to bolster America’s economy and national security. Promoting energy dominance and reducing dependence on China for critical rare earth elements is vital for global security and economic stability. Promoting farming and ranching is critical for food security.

 I will:

  • Work to streamline and simplify the permitting processes for agricultural activities on public lands. This includes grazing permits, water use permits, and other necessary authorizations.
  • Advocate for policies that reduce bureaucratic delays and increase the efficiency of public land management agencies, ensuring farmers and ranchers can access the resources they need without undue burden.
  • Champion policies that empower local and state authorities to have a greater say in the management of public lands within their jurisdictions. Local input is crucial for tailoring management practices to regional needs and conditions.

 As a scout, I learned to leave my campsite better than I found it. We can be wise stewards of our land and water without crippling our economy. Extracting resources domestically, where environmental standards are higher, is preferable to offshoring to places like Russia or China.


Peay: I will fight new and existing conservation rules and regulations to help agriculture and grazing interests, including the recent Conservation and Landscape Health proposal from President Biden. I will work with other members of our delegation and western states to transfer lands back to state management and ownership.


Kennedy: The people of Utah and those closest to our natural resources are the best equipped to be stewards of that land and those resources. Currently, over 65% of Utah’s land is controlled by the Federal Government. We need to stop the commandeering of additional Utah land through unilateral executive action (like the Antiquities Act); we also need to look for opportunities to move land back into the stewardship of the states. In the past, this has usually only been a “one-way” street of land being taken over by the federal government.

 I strongly support the recent legislation introduced by our Utah Congressional Delegation to combat Biden’s Public Lands Rule that would allow conservation leases on public lands—potentially by organizations or people outside our State—that would preclude economic use and development of those lands.


Bird: As I alluded to above, with Utah being a public lands state, I will fight for Utahns to keep access to federal lands for energy exploration and extraction, recreation, and other economic development activities.

I grew up in a rural Utah community that is reliant on public lands for our livelihoods. I’ve seen firsthand how detrimental poorly thought-through public land policy from out-of-state bureaucrats affects communities. Those closest to the land are most invested and the best stewards of that land.

Specifically, I will fight against the recently proposed BLM rule that would make conservation (or non-use) a legal land use. This would allow the BLM to tie up millions of acres and keep tax-paying citizens off federal lands. Congressman John Curtis’ recently passed and bipartisan The West Act addresses this BLM rule. I support this legislative fix.


TRADE

After decades of ag exports being a mainstay in our national balance of trade, the United States has been a net importer in agricultural trade since 2021.

  1. Does this raise national security issues?
  2. What can be done in your role to help this?

Dougall: Yes, the shift from being a net exporter to a net importer of agricultural products can raise several national security concerns:

  • Dependence on foreign sources for essential agricultural products can make the United States vulnerable to supply disruptions due to geopolitical tensions, trade disputes, or other international events.
  • A strong agricultural export sector supports rural economies and jobs. Declining exports can negatively impact these communities, leading to economic instability and loss of livelihoods.
  • Increased reliance on imported agricultural products can expose the country to vulnerabilities in global supply chains, including transportation disruptions, natural disasters, or pandemics.
  • Other nations could potentially use food exports as leverage in diplomatic or trade negotiations, potentially compromising U.S. interests.


 b. What can be done in your role to help this?

To strengthen food security and economic viability, I would pursue the following actions:

  • Eliminate regulations that discourage domestic food production
  • Eliminate policies that favor foreign food production over domestic food production
  • Advocate for trade policies that open up new markets for U.S. agricultural products and reduce barriers to exports.
  • Eliminate trade tariffs that hinder exports of U.S. agricultural products, cripple domestic growers, and disrupted supply chains, ensuring competitive access to global markets.
  • Support immigration reform and labor programs that provide a reliable and skilled workforce for the agricultural sector, addressing critical labor shortages that impact productivity.
  • Eliminate restrictions and regulations that limit local food systems and farm-to-table initiatives that connect consumers with local producers, boosting domestic demand for U.S. agricultural products.

By taking these actions, I aim to bolster domestic agricultural production, enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exports, and mitigate national security risks associated with being a net importer of agricultural products. Through these efforts, we can ensure a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector that contributes to national security and economic stability.


Peay: 

    1. Does this raise national security issues? Yes, this is a national security concern. We need to do everything in our power to ensure farming and ranching is strong in America, and return to being a greater exporter than importer.
    2. What can be done in your role to help this? Utah needs members of Congress who will support and promote more free trade and will push foreign governments to remove tariffs that burden agricultural producers and American consumers.


Kennedy: I believe the U.S. should be self-sufficient and even dominant when it comes to food, fuel, and fiber produced by our farmers and ranchers. It is a national security threat when we are dependent on unreliable and even unfriendly countries to provide us with our very sustenance. To that end, farm and ranch-friendly policies that enhance the ability of our farmers and ranchers to provide for society would always be top considerations in my service.

This may come in the form of tax modifications, reduced regulations, and providing necessary support for equipment and resources essential for farming operations. While I am not a fan of tariffs and corporate welfare, I do believe there is a role for the federal government to push back against foreign governments that place our farmers and ranchers in unsustainable positions.

With a record agricultural trade deficit predicted for 2024 and increased competition from overseas markets, the federal government must do a better job promoting U.S. exports and fighting for fair market access for our agricultural products.

Additionally, I am firmly against foreign countries owning farmland in the United States. I supported a bill in the Utah legislature’s 2024 session that banned certain countries from owning land in the state.  Allowing foreign ownership of our agricultural land poses a significant risk to our national security and food supply. We need to protect our farmland and ensure it remains in the hands of American farmers and ranchers.

By supporting these policies, we can strengthen our agricultural sector, reduce our dependence on foreign imports, and enhance our national security.


Bird: 

  1. Absolutely! The ability to provide food and energy to the citizens of our nation is imperative to our national security. Being in both the Ag and energy industries, I have seen how critical it is that we have the ability to be self-sufficient in both aspects. To be beholden to countries that dislike us, for food puts us in a very poor position, and needs to be reversed.
  2. As mentioned throughout this survey, farmers bear heavy tax and regulatory burdens. I aim to work on legislation that would help educate our public, greatly deregulate the farming industry, and make farming more profitable and appealing to future generations.

Tariff’s might also be considered to protect our farmers from unfair trade practices by hostile and offending countries like China.


Lawrence: Yes, agricultural production is a national security concern because it is critical that the United States has the power and ability to feed our own population in times of crisis like war or disaster. Our national balance of trade is susceptible to food supply stability fluctuations – as we saw during COVID – and economic vulnerability. I will take actions to address these national security concerns. I will support domestic agriculture (incentives for farmers), enhance the supply chain (through infrastructure investment and promoting the local/regional food systems), and ensure the labor shortages and food security issues are addressed in other ways. We must be able to feed and support our own people. 


GENERAL

Outside of agriculture, what are some of your main issues that you hope to address if elected?

Peay: As an attorney, former Chair of the Utah County Republican Party and 12-year veteran of the Utah Army National Guard, I have a breadth and depth of experiences that my opponents lack. My military service includes a year long deployment to Iraq following 9/11 where I specialized in military intelligence. Because no current member of the Utah delegation has served in the Armed Forces, I can lead out on national defense, military readiness and foreign affairs for our state, active duty and veterans. With turmoil in the Middle East and aggression from Russia and China, Utah needs a trusted voice now more than ever.


Kennedy: I have been in public service for ten years and have worked vigorously to protect our farmers and ranchers during that time. Most recently, I worked with other legislators and the Farm Bureau to promote agri-tourism in a responsible and effective fashion.

Our border is a mess, our national spending is out of control, inflation is ruining our economy, and our people and businesses are struggling to keep afloat with a government that sometimes is weaponized against us. I will work collaboratively with my legislative colleagues to find common-sense solutions to the issues plaguing our society.

Securing our border, tackling inflation, and cleaning up the corruption in Washington are top priorities. We need to focus on solutions that make life better for our families and protect our freedoms.

As the father of 8 children and the grandfather of 9, I am committed to lessening the dysfunction in Washington for the sake of our children and grandchildren. While I don’t have all the answers, I have learned over the years that by working together, we can solve the complicated problems we confront.


Bird: My top priority when elected will be to get inflation under control. One way I will pursue this is to propose a long-term energy policy that will bring stability to our energy producers, reverse the freeze on liquid natural gas permitting and exploration, and reopen responsible energy exploration and extraction on federal lands. Energy costs influence the price of everything including costs to run agriculture operations. A perfect example of this is the exploding costs of fertilizer, which is directly related to the cost of natural gas, it being a key component in synthetic fertilizer production.

We’ve seen what energy independence looks like a few short years ago and how it can quickly be reversed by a single administration. Codifying a long-term energy policy is the only way to stop the energy policy pendulum swing from administration to administration, will strengthen our natural security so we don’t rely on unfriendly nations for energy, and is one of the best ways to help bring inflation down quickly. 

Other priorities I will pursue are securing our borders, fixing our immigration system, balancing our federal budget, investing in our national defense as the world continues to get more dangerous, and fighting federal overreach into Utahns lives.


Lawrence: I’ve spent my entire life in the private sector. As a business owner, I’ve supported over five thousand employees and their families and have mentored hundreds of young entrepreneurs. I’m not a politician, I’m a problem solver. I hope to earn your vote as I commit to helping all Utahns achieve the American Dream. We can restore the American Dream and that’s why I’m running. My plan to restore the American Dream is simple: secure the border, cut reckless spending, fix inflation and unleash the American economy, end government overreach, and stop communist China from undermining the United States.


Dougall: Washington has degraded from constructive debate to theatrical antics. Show over substance. Performance over principles. The mainstream conservative movement, once led by Reagan, is yielding to persistent, vicious attacks from extreme MAGA populism.

I’ll roll up my sleeves to collaborate on fixing the critical challenges facing our nation that require immediate action: border security, immigration, fiscal responsibility, economic and military strength, and retirement and entitlement reform. 

The Republican Party used to be the party of big ideas. Sadly, not today. Yet, now, more than ever, we need big ideas. Because big ideas propel us forward, inspire action, and shape the future. Big ideas have the power to unite us with a shared sense of purpose. The GOP needs to be the party of innovation and solutions, rewarding entrepreneurship over cronyism. We must be the party that is willing to make the hard decisions to ensure our nation is on solid ground for generations to come.

My top priority is bringing fiscal sanity to the federal government. Reckless spending and ballooning debt (almost $35 trillion) are driving inflation, making it harder for Utahns to buy a home, put food on the table, or run a business. That debt is now a significant national security threat. This year the federal government will spend more paying interest to its debt than on national defense. Soon interest costs will eclipse Social Security and Medicare spending. This is unsustainable. And it is crippling our economy and threatens the security Americans depend on for retirement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, while simultaneously threatening higher taxes on young workers who justifiably assume they will never benefit from those programs.