The following questions were asked of Republican Primary candidates for the U.S. Senate. Responses were received for current U.S. Rep. John Curtis and current Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. They were not received for former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson or Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton.

The candidates featured are from the 2024 Republican Party Primaries for Senate. There were no democratic primaries in this statewide 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?

Trent Staggs: The tax levels that led to the revolution were a fraction of what we are now paying. Your labor is your property. As a mayor, I've fought to lower every tax and fee I can get my hands on - and I'll do the same as your Senator. With regard specifically to farm policy, I support increased federal Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) on public lands – if those lands cannot be restored to their rightful owners. I oppose the American taxpayer paying for frivolous lawsuits and Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources purchasing private agriculture or range ground and/or grazing permits, resulting in a tax base decrease.

John Curtis: Since coming to Congress I have thoroughly enjoyed my relationship with the Utah Farm Bureau. I have met so many of you during your DC fly-ins and traveling around Utah, and I look forward to continuing that important relationship in the Senate. I understand that robust domestic production of food is critical to our national security and wellbeing. I will continue to support policies that support American farmers and ranchers, while also holding foreign adversaries accountable who seek to take advantage of our system.

I am proud that one of my first votes in Congress was in support of the Trump tax cuts. While this bill included many provisions, one of the most important was increasing the income threshold for the death tax. I have supported legislation to eliminate the death tax entirely, which disproportionately hurts family agricultural operations. I have also supported legislation to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from buying up U.S. farmland. 

I also voted for the Farm Bill in the House and will continue to be at the table to ensure Utah’s interests are represented as the next version is drafted and considered. I regret some Republicans don’t understand the importance of these programs to rural Utah and I see it as a piece of critical legislation.

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?

Curtis: We absolutely need more accountability for the regulations put out by federal agencies. This is especially true for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has overstepped their legal authority in an attack on rural America. This includes their disastrous WOTUS rule, limiting the use of certain pesticides without robust scientific justification, and more. I will continue to perform oversight of these agencies, especially when it impacts Utah’s industries.

A major step could be the results of the Supreme Court’s case on Chevron deference. Currently, courts generally defer to an agency’s interpretation of the law. By overturning Chevron it would put the ball back in Congress’ court and give us much more leverage to hold agencies accountable. Once this case is decided I look forward to seeing what opportunities exist to further push back on the regulations coming out of the EPA and other agencies that negatively impact Utah’s farmers and ranchers.

Staggs: The less Washington can control its budget, the more it wants to control your life.

In 1980, the national debt was just $1 trillion. With the out-of-control spending of recent years, it is now an incomprehensible $35 trillion - or some 140% of our GDP! We are now the largest debtor nation and one of the top 12 countries with the highest debt ratio.

Meanwhile, as Washington has been reckless with our money, they are boxing us in with more regulations than we should ever have to endure. Federal agencies now number in the hundreds, with millions of rules and regulations being imposed on us by unelected bureaucracies. This overregulation costs employers between $10-20 thousand dollars per employee to come into compliance with, and drags down our economy by almost $2 trillion.

Wouldn’t most budget-strapped farmers rather see that added to their paychecks? As Mayor, I've cut spending and regulations, and for DC, I won't just bring a hatchet; I'll bring a chainsaw.

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?

Staggs: I support the elimination of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and, like the Farm Bureau, I support that a new ESA be enacted that allows for meaningful participation from all affected people, agencies, and affected groups with standing to decide if a given species warrants listing for protection under a new ESA. The voice of America’s landowners – and their local, elected leaders – should be the most important one in the room. Policies that affect farmers should be determined by farmers, not bureaucrats 2,000 miles away.

Curtis: It is clear the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is broken and I have supported numerous pieces of legislation to reform it. We need to stop the ESA’s weaponization, where under the current situation the law effectively allows litigious groups to use the ESA to justify shutting down production. I also believe we need to push conservation efforts down to the state and local level. This will help species conservation by allowing flexibility and innovation that is rarely considered at the federal level.

Additionally, we must ensure private landowners have the complete right to access and use their property as they see fit. Farmers and ranchers have been the stewards of these lands for generations and understand how to use the land responsibly and sustainably. We should be looking to them for solutions, not allowing Washington bureaucrats to tell them how to do their jobs.

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?

Curtis: In Congress I have a long track record of voting for legislation that would increase flexibility for Utah’s agricultural operations to access seasonal foreign labor. This is hard work and we have seen for years the lack of Utahns applying to fill these positions. When there is a shortage of labor I think it is appropriate to allow visas to support these Utah businesses.

In addition to H-2A, I introduced legislation that would create a state sponsored visa pilot program. This bill would grant a certain amount of visas to each state’s governor to issue. In my view, giving those with the best understanding of the on the ground labor needs will result in better policy. I also included a provision that allows Utah to create compacts to allow seasonal agricultural workers to move between states based on the growing seasons. I believe the flexibility of my legislation would have a huge impact on filling the needs of Utah’s agriculture economy.

Staggs: I support an economical and effective federal guest worker program. In the absence of a federal guest worker program, I support a statewide guest worker program that will allow foreign workers with appropriate identification to work in the U.S. There is a difference between authorized guest workers supporting the U.S. economy and millions living illegally among us, frequently collecting government benefits.

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?

Staggs: One of the greatest assets Western states have is our natural resources. But how can we thrive when distant bureaucrats control more of our states than we do? The answer is a return to federalism, where the central government works for states, rather than the other way around.

While privileged Northeastern states all own 99% of their own land, Western states are much less fortunate. We can clearly see how oppressive the federal government has become with land ownership. The feds own more than 60% of Utah! 

This massive land grab has denied Utahns their right to self-governance and stewardship. As your Senator, I will fight to reclaim the land that was ours.

I support rewriting the Antiquities Act to revoke the executive’s branch’s ability to designate national monuments. Congress, in association with the executive branch, with the approval of state and local governments, should be the body to designate national monuments.  I support removal of land or change of boundaries of the monument to facilitate extraction and utilization of natural resources, including oil, gas, and coal.

Curtis: I am proud to spearhead the effort to repeal BLM’s disastrous Conservation and Landscape Health rule which effectively ends multiple use of our public lands. This rule is a direct attack on rural Utah by allowing rich environmental groups to lock up public lands throughout the state. I am proud that my legislation to repeal it passed the House with bipartisan support.

I take great pride in learning about Utah’s local issues and working to solve those problems. In the Senate, I will continue to push back against federal overreach and work with rural communities to be the resources they need to succeed, be it infrastructure, permitting, or other issues.


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?

Curtis: This is absolutely a problem. We should immediately ban our adversaries, such as China, from buying U.S. farmland which currently raises the cost of land for U.S. businesses. I have been a strong critic of efforts by foreign countries to flood markets to the detriment of American farmers, and we should look to our tariff policies to hold them accountable when appropriate. We need robust domestic programs to ensure agriculture businesses can continue to operate in the face of uncertain market conditions like we see in the Farm Bill. As the world becomes a more dangerous place due to aggression by foreign adversaries it is more important than ever to ensure we have a sustainable agriculture domestic supply chain.

Staggs: One of the few enumerated powers explicitly granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution is the Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), which states that Congress shall have power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Like the Farm Bureau, I support competitive livestock markets to assure fair market prices, lifting tariffs from agricultural products entering Turkey and the European Union, independent producers forming alliances and other strategic business, and agricultural products that are coming into the state being held to the same marketing requirements as those produced in the state.

As a general rule, I support open trade – except, as you point out in your question, where national security could be at risk. We have seen in the last 25 years how opening up trade with China has had the effect of feeding its military machine, rather than fostering peaceful relations. Such trade deals must be reconsidered in light of potential risks.


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

Staggs: The primary focus of my campaign is smaller government, safer families, and stronger economy. I support a return to federalism – the reining in of an out-of-control administrative federal government – and a restoration of states’ rights. For more, please see my website,

Curtis: I wrote an op-ed about why I am running for the U.S. Senate that can be read, here.