clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Agricultural-land proposal plowed under in Utah House

The Utah House first diluted and then killed a measure aimed at agricultural-land preservation.

HB50 was rejected by a 50-20 vote Monday.The plan would have authorized counties - by a vote of residents - to impose a one-eighth-cent sales-tax increase for the purchase of conservation easements. Essentially, the proposal would allow counties to buy future development rights on agricultural land from farmers.

House Speaker Mel Brown so strongly opposed the plan that he temporarily stepped down from his dais to speak against it on the floor.

"We don't need a system that involves public money," Brown said. He denounced conservation easements as a fad that Utah should resist taking up.

"If you'll leave us alone and let us solve our problems by ourselves, ultimately we'll do it," said Brown, who owns and operates a Sum-mit County dairy farm.

Majority Leader Christine Fox-Finlinson, R-Lehi, joined in the attack on the bill, whose approach she described as "bizarre."

"It is a wonderful goal but hardly practical," said Fox-Finlinson, who used to own a Utah County dairy farm. "Don't take another step toward government ownership of property. We have enough government-owned property already."

Sponsoring Rep. Evan Olsen, R-College Ward and also a dairy farmer, said, "In Utah we have only 13,000 farmers left. That is being endangered by the sprawl around cities. Unless we take some action, we won't have the opportunity to look to the future."