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Farmers Feeding Utah Program Donates Food To Kane County Families

KANAB, Utah — More than 300 families in Kane County received food thanks to a program called Farmers Feeding Utah.

“We have a lot of people who often feel forgotten down on this end of the state,” said Dusty Reese, a cattle rancher in Kane County who is also the president of the Kane County Farm Bureau.

When Reese helped get the program to Kanab Friday evening, she knew hundreds of families wouldn’t have to worry about where their next meals were coming from.

“It was really exciting to bring people together and provide high quality foods,” she said.

It’s what Farmers Feeding Utah has done for the past year. The program has provided food to families and communities facing food insecurity throughout the state.

The Utah Farm Bureau started the program as a way for farmers to make sure their products were being used, instead of letting them go to waste, because of lack of demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

People donate to the program, which buys the extra food from farmers, and then donates it to communities.

“We are just so grateful to be a part of this program to be able to help fight hunger throughout our state,” said Clayton Beckstead with the Farmers Feeding Utah program.

Even though the end of coronavirus is in sight, farmers said they are concerned about another growing issue.

“Agriculture is still in a precarious position here in Utah, especially for beef production and cattle,” said Reese.

Drought conditions in Utah are bad. State water engineers said the soil is dryer than they’ve ever recorded it.

“We’re used to dry conditions. We do live in the desert, but as it gets drier and drier over the past few years, it starts taking a toll on us,” said Brian Johnson who runs Johnson Land and Livestock in the Rush Valley part of Tooele County.

He needed to start buying feed for his cattle because dry conditions weren’t allowing him to grow enough food for them.

“It’s tough,” said Johnson. “It’s kind of the long game you’ve got to play, and you have to be prepared.”

100% of Utah is currently in moderate drought conditions, and 90% of the state is in severe drought. Because of that, Governor Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency.

It allows communities affected by drought, as well as farmers and ranchers, to begin the process to apply for state and federal aid.

During a news conference, Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner Craig Buttars said water conservation is as important as ever.

“I think we’ll see different political environments,” said Buttars. “We’ll see changes as far as climate and things that are going to make our local Utah farmers even more important.”

Farmers have always been important, but now, it’s almost to the point where they’re going to need a miracle, too.

“We are so grateful for the rains we’ve been receiving” said Reese. “But we still have a need for helping farmers and agriculture in this state.”

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