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We've lost so much of it - and now state officials are asking Utahns to tell them what to do about saving remaining farmland.

Farmers and city folks also are being asked to convey their opinions on agriculture's contributions to the state.

"We're looking for your story about agriculture - what farming and ranching mean to you," said Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

For Jeanette Drake, farms mean fresh food and specialty products - much like the goat milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream produced at Drake Family Farms in West Jordan, just off of 7400 South at 1856 West.

The farm is the last remaining dairy in Salt Lake County, which had been dotted with commercial dairies and alfalfa fields to feed their cattle a generation ago.

"We sell right from our farm," said Drake. "It's good that people are so close to us. We wouldn't make it if we were miles and miles away from the nearest city."

Other producers haven't been so lucky.

Utah has lost 2 million acres of farm and grazing land in the past 40 years - nearly the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

For the survey, schoolchildren also are encouraged to send in e-mails.

At Salem Elementary School in Utah County, Dorie Thatcher's second-grade students already have sent their thoughts.

"Agriculture is important because we wouldn't have food. We wouldn't have clothes to keep us warm. And we wouldn't have tables," wrote a boy named Carter.

Wrote Anna: "Farmers grow plants that provide cotton that our clothes are made from. Some farmers grow trees for our houses."

Grace said that without agriculture "we would not be alive, that's why it is important to me," and Natalia wrote, "We wouldn't have perfume to make us smell good."

MaKinli said agriculture brings us "things like footballs, pencils, paper, food, water." Sydney included having "a place to live and sleep," and Wyatt said agriculture gave him "the paper that I'm writing on right now."

Jake, who wrote that agriculture is important "because I am a farmer," was in the minority.

Statewide, agriculture stopped being a major contributor to Utah's economy just before World War II. And although the dairy, beef, poultry and egg industries remain sound, Utah imports more food for human consumption today than it exports.

Agricultural survey

* Agricultural Commissioner Leonard Blackham is asking Utahns to e-mail opinions about agriculture's contribution to the state - and what needs fixing.

* Farmers and ranchers are asked to describe what they grow or raise, while city folks can explain what they appreciate about their rural counterparts.

* E-mail your opinions to

* Comments will be posted at