Agricultural Legislative update and more
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 Aquaponics Gains Acceptance in Utah

In December 2015, The Utah Department of Agriculture and food started a demonstration aquaponics garden and a small-scale hydroponic tower garden. Just like hydroponics, aquaponics is growing plants in nutrient rich water without soil. The difference is aquaponics uses live fish to provide the fertilizer for the plants. Through trail and error, UDAF has established a functional garden that is designed to give backyard gardeners and farmers alike some ideas and motivation moving forward. For more information and links to home hydroponics ideas and building plans, check out the aquaponics blog post on the UDAF website.

Ag. Legislative Update


Go to the List of Bills on the Utah State Legislature website to learn more about specific pieces of proposed legislation. As of February 22, 2016, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food was following several active bills related to agriculture in Utah. Below is a list of active bills by number and name. NOTE: House Bill 0144, the Food Freedom Act, has been tabled and is not expected to be revived this session, so it does not appear in the list below.

House Bills

  • HB211 - Agricultural Exemption Amendments
    • Sponsor: Rep. Perry
    • UDAF Position -- Support
    • Status: Passed the House and introduced to Senate Rules Committee.
Description: This is a UDAF bill. It amends the duties of the state veterinarian to say the state veterinarian shall coordinate rather than direct; modifies definitions; enacts provisions related to minimum requirements for enclosures and fences for bison; and makes technical changes.
  • HB213 - Agricultural Modifications
    • Sponsor: Rep Sandall
    • UDAF Position -- Support
    • Status: Passed the House and should be heard in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee week of 2/22/16.
  • HB309 - Sale and Use Tax Earmark Amendments
    • Sponsor: Rep. McCay
    • UDAF Position -- Opposed
    • Status: This bill has been referred to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Description: This bill repeals certain earmarks of the state sales and use tax. If passed in its present state, ARDL will not be funded. UDAF agrees with the principle behind the bill but is concerned because it does not have a mechanism to fund ARDL. $1 million has been recommended to be appropriated by the sub-appropriations committee from ARDL to pay for Conservation District employees and projects, if ARDL is no longer funded, then there will be long term problems with employee and project funding. The objectives of the ARDL program are to: Conserve soil and water resources, increase agricultural yields for croplands, orchards, pasture, range, and livestock, maintain and improve water quality, conserve and/or develop on-farm energy, reduce damages to agriculture as a result of flooding, drought, or other natural disasters and provide and maintain protection of crops or animal resources. ARDL provides loans to farmers and ranchers to meet these objectives.
  • HJ002 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution -- Right to Food
    • Sponsor: Rep. Roberts
    • UDAF Position -- Opposed
    • Status: This bill is in the House Rules Committee.
Description: This Joint Resolution proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to establish a right relating to growing or acquiring farm-produced food. This Constitutional Amendment could require the State to guarantee and provide access to food.
  • HB115 and HB315 - Beekeeping Bills
    • Sponsor: Rep. Roberts; Rep. McIff
    • UDAF Position -- Opposed
    • Status: These bills were heard at the same time and are so different that they were held in the house committee and referred to interim for a reconciliation of their differences.
Description: HB 115 makes the registration of beehives optional. HB 315 changes the registration requirements for commercial beekeepers, creates a registration time period for new and renewal registrations and describes a process for moving an apiary.

Senate Bills

  • SB80 - Infrastructure Funding Amendments
    • Sponsor: Sen. Adams
    • UDAF Position -- Support
    • Status: This has been sent to House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Description: This bill provides that certain sales and use tax revenue that was deposited into the Transportation Fund shall be deposited into the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account; provides that a certain amount of revenue shall annually be transferred from the Transportation Fund of 2005 to the Transportation Fund; and makes technical changes.
  • SB89 - Medical Cannabidiol Amendments
    • Sponsor: Sen. Vickers
    • UDAF Position -- Neutral
    • Status: Passed the Senate on Monday Feb. 22. Sent to the House.
Description: This bill allows an individual with a qualifying illness who registers with the state electronic verification system to possess and use cannabidiol under certain circumstances. It directs UDAF to issue licenses to cannabidiol production and processing facilities. It also directs UDAF to make rule regarding the transportation of cannabidiol. In other states where medical marijuana is legal, it has become the most time and resource consuming program for each State Department of Agriculture.
  • SB73 - Medical Cannabis Act
    • Sponsor: Sen. Madsen
    • UDAF Position -- Neutral
    • Status: Second reading on Monday Feb. 22 in the Senate. Could be debated as early as 2/23
Description: This bill allows individuals with a qualifying illness, who registers with the Department of Health, to possess and use cannabis, cannabis products, or a medical cannabis device. UDAF is to license and inspect cultivation and processing facilities and cannabis testing laboratories. In other states where medical marijuana is legal, it has become the most time and resource consuming program for each State Department of Agriculture.

UDAF Starts Winter Honey Bee Inspections

UDAF's apiary inspection program has started conducting winter honey bee inspections. Honeybee colony inspections usually include opening the hives, which could be life threatening to bees during freezing temperatures. However, using an infrared camera provided by the University of Utah, UDAF bee inspector can conduct winter inspections and "see" into the hives without opening them. If there is no heat signature, the bees are most likely dead. Inspectors can then open the hives to determine the cause of the hive's demise. These winter inspections may help prevent the spread of bee diseases and help beekeepers take steps in the future to keep their bees alive through the winter months. Learn more from this UDAF video on the winter program. To schedule an inspection, call UDAF at 801-538-4912.
The 2016 Specialty Crop grant applications are now available on the UDAF website. Proposals are due April 29, 2016.

Annual Community Supported Agriculture Open House Mar. 2

Again this year, Wheeler Farm will host the annual CSA Utah farmers open house, hosted by the Great Salt Lake Resource Conservation and Development Council. See the flyer below for more information, or log on to the CSA Utah website.
Copyright © 2016 Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, All rights reserved.

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