In an unprecedented show of solidarity Friday, Utah's five largest farming organizations voiced their united opposition against an open-space initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In a move to "set the record straight," Utah Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker said the five groups — the Utah Farm Bureau, Utah Wool Growers Association, Utah Cattlemen's Association, Utah Dairymen's Association and the Utah Farmers Union — came together against Initiative 1 mainly because it short-circuits the legislative process.
"What's going on with this initiative is exactly what's wrong with the referendum process," Parker said. "It doesn't allow for debate; it only allows one group to use as much money as they can to promote their viewpoint."
Initiative 1 would pay to preserve open space, clean water and air, build parks and construct government buildings with a $150 million bond funded by a .05-cent sales tax increase. The initiative, according to sponsor Utahns for Clean Water, Clean Air & Quality Growth, would cost the average Utah family about $14 more a year.
Together, Parker said, the five groups represent about 98 percent of farmers and ranchers throughout the state. All of the organizations decided to take a stance against the initiative after receiving member responses and a final vote by a board of directors.