When the Utah Farm Bureau Federation brings farmers from all over the state together for its annual convention Thursday and Friday at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, it will help celebrate an important industry.
According to a recent Utah State University report that uses a multiplier effect, agriculture employees 78,000 people and is a $17.5 billion industry in Utah.
The theme of this year's conference "Many Voices, One Vision" reflects the issues and challenges the industry is facing. These include the state of the economy, costs for energy, feed and fertilizers, health care uncertainties and what leaders claim are relentless attacks from organizations and media members critical of agriculture.
"This is a great opportunity to see the Farm Bureau at work, but to also build friendships, business relationships and to get a break from the hard work agriculture demands," said Leland Hogan, Utah Farm Bureau president.
The event will feature presentations from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and cowboy poet Baxter Black.
Panels and discussions will include public policy discussions about such issues as water improvement, national economic conditions, animal welfare policies, constitutional principles, wildlife concerns and the uncertainties of the new health care act.
Steve Kammeyer, director of Health Insurance Services for Farm Bureau Financial Services in Iowa, will speak on how the health care legislation impacts farmers and ranchers, and what steps need to be taken to ensure members are in compliance with the new law.
The group will also announce winners of its major awards include the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award and Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Award.
Some members will kick off the convention on Wednesday, with meetings of the State Women's and Young Farmer and Rancher committees.
For information on the convention or to register, log on to utfb.fb.org.