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Utah Farm Bureau

Food donation is a miracle, coming from farmers who need a miracle of their own

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Mar. 27, 2021 at 8:52 p.m.


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KANAB — There's a reason why a food delivery in Kane County Friday night is called a miracle project.

For some families, prayers have been answered.

"We have a lot of people who often feel forgotten down on this end of the state," said Dusty Reese.

Reese is a cattle rancher in Kane County. She's also the President of the Kane County Farm Bureau.

So, when she helped get the Farmers Feeding Utah 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. More than 300 families were helped in the Kanab area.

The Utah Farm Bureau started the program as a way for farmers to make sure their products are used, instead of letting them go to waste, because of the lack of demand or supply chain interruptions due to the 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, who is with the Farmers Feeding Utah program.

Even though the end of coronavirus seems to be in sight, farmers are concerned about another issue that's only growing.

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

Kyle Wilson poses with tomatoes donated through the Farmers Feeding Utah program for families in Kanab on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Kyle Wilson poses with tomatoes donated through the Farmers Feeding Utah program for families in Kanab on Friday, March 26, 2021. (Photo: Utah Farm Bureau)

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

"We're used to dry conditions. We do live in the desert," said Brian Johnson. "But, as it gets drier and drier over the past few years, it starts taking a toll on us."

Brian Johnson runs Johnson Land and Livestock in the Rush Valley part of Tooele County. He has had to start buying feed for his cattle because dry conditions aren'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."

Utah is currently in moderate drought conditions across 100% of the state, and 90% is in severe drought.

Because of that, Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency last week.

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

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

Donations from the Farmers Feeding Utah program await families in Kanab on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Donations from the Farmers Feeding Utah program await families in Kanab on Friday, March 26, 2021. (Photo: Utah Farm Bureau)

"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. 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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Alex Cabrero

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