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Coming to Terms with Agriculture in the West

Sprinkler irrigation line watering an alfalfa field in Utah.
dgphotography/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sprinkler irrigation line watering an alfalfa field in Utah.

By one estimate, agriculture in Utah consumes 75% of the state's water. Given that fact, along with historic drought and a drying Great Salt Lake, people are starting to ask: Can we continue to farm here?

The pastoral ideal of working the land, cultivating crops and providing food is in many ways at the heart of American mythology, and the mystique of the West. But, is it time to move on? Can we — should we — continue to raise crops in arid country faced with dwindling water supplies and rampant population growth? This Friday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., we’re talking to a policy maker, a professor of Western water history and farmers themselves about whether the time has come for a reckoning with agriculture.


  • Gregory Smoak is an associate professor of history at the University of Utah and director of the American West Center
  • Joel Ferry is the executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources.  He is also a fifth generation farmer in Corrine, Utah 
  • Galen Anderson and Wayne Aoki, farmers in Box Elder County

Airdate: Friday, Jan 27, 2023 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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