“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep…” the farmer or rancher from gathering at the capitol to help lawmakers see firsthand how their decisions impact the farm.

In a slight adjustment from the ‘U.S. Postal Service Creed’, winter weather didn’t keep Utah Farm Bureau leaders from visiting Capitol Hill this last week as the legislature reaches a fever pitch prior to adjourning the end of this week. With many bills still in play, the Utah Farm Bureau wanted to make their presence known in-person with lawmakers, and make a visual representation of the impact their decisions make on the farm – specifically when it came to water.

Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson stands next to the dairy cow as part of the ag exhibit outside the capitol.

Greeting visitors with a tractor, bales of alfalfa, and a dairy cow, leaders also meet with lawmakers, other industry representatives, and visitors with educational materials about agriculture and some milk & cheese to show how ag water leads to local food production.

“There are many options for us to interact with our legislative leaders, such as text and email, and even zoom gives us a chance to weigh-in from far away, but there’s nothing quite like visiting with them in-person,” said Ron Gibson, President of the Utah Farm Bureau. “The timing was great, as many of our water issues are being discussed while we were there. Bringing a bit of the farm to them was great, but we need to continue to reach out and build relationships with these leaders.”

Terry Camp (left) VP of Public Policy, visits with Millard County Farm Bureau President Erin Sorenson (center) and her son during the rural caucus at the legislature.

Farm Bureau leaders were able to hear from several state legislators during an issue briefing in the day, prior to visiting with them and others while the House and Senate chambers were in session.

“We had a great time while on the Hill with Farm Bureau,” said Kelby Iverson, Vice President with the Washington County Farm Bureau and a rancher from Hurricane. “Representative Joseph Elison from Washington county invited us down on the floor with him, and he was very interested in what we had to say took notes on the bills that Farm Bureau was following. It was wonderful rubbing shoulders with all of our Farm Bureau.”

“I loved hearing directly from our representatives about the bills they are sponsoring and the details behind each one,” said Nancy Harris of Sevier County, a member of the State Women’s Leadership Committee board. “I was able to speak with several key people on water issues and had the opportunity to share my point of view with them. The exhibit on the south steps was an awesome place to engage others in talking about agriculture and brought attention to Farm Bureau’s presence at the Capitol.”

Lawmakers and farmers visit at the agriculture display outside the capitol in Salt Lake City. From left to right: Rep. Thomas Peterson (Dist. 1),
Cody Hart, Chris Chambers, Rep. Joseph Elison (Dist. 72), Rep. R. Neil Walter (Dist. 74), Bren Edwards, and Sakia White.

Senator Scott Sandall from Tremonton (Senate District 1) visited with those attending about many of the water bills being discussed in the legislature, and later read a citation recognizing the Utah Farm Bureau and its members in attendance.

“Our national security and the safety and security of our state cannot exist without safe, abundant, and affordable food,” Sandall’s statement read. “After all the long hours of toil and trial running their complicated businesses, our farmers & ranchers also support their rural and urban communities. Utah farms and ranches are often an underestimated economic powerhouse.”

Senator Scott Sandall (left) visits with Farm Bureau members at the capitol.

Additional legislators that visited with members for legislative briefings included Senator Winterton, and Representatives Tom Peterson, Scott Chew, Doug Owens, and Carl Albrecht. Craig Buttars, Commissioner for the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food also came and visited.

“I felt like we brought agriculture to the capitol! Having the tractor and cows brought life and excitement to the ‘Day on the Hill’. I felt like it brought legislators out and good conversations were had,” said Sherrie Tate, Washington County Farm Bureau President and the chair of the State Promotion & Education Committee. “We were able to connect with consumers and those who were visiting from out of state. A highlight for me was when I heard a lady say, ‘the farmers are here!’”

Kitty Young (center) of the State Women's Leadership Committee hands out agriculture books to visitors outside the capitol.

The 2023 General Legislative Session ends this Friday, March 3, at midnight. As a reminder, Farm Bureau members can follow legislation the Farm Bureau is working on and get updates and summaries on priority bills at https://www.utahfarmbureau.org/Policy-Action/Utah-Policy-Update.