Central Utah Agri-ParkA Six County Association of Governments Project
The Six County Association of Governments is creating an agricultural processing center in Central Utah, dedicated to supporting the region’s family farms and agricultural producers. Spearheaded by the Six County Association of Governments, with a focus on boosting the economies of Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, and Wayne counties, the initiative recognizes agriculture as a key economic foundation in the area with untapped potential.
Understanding the need for improvement, the project aims to address barriers to entry for businesses who support producers, such as infrastructure and zoning challenges. By creating a centralized location, this endeavor facilitates the use of locally-produced goods and services, ultimately generating income, fostering job opportunities, and enhancing food security. The incorporation of technology will play a crucial role in optimizing the distribution of goods both locally and abroad. Securing necessary funding is a pivotal aspect of realizing this comprehensive vision, ensuring the sustained success of the project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Agri-Park?
A. The Agri-Park project will be a large-scale industrial park with the infrastructure and governmental approvals in place to attract and make it more economically viable for agricultural-based companies to locate their facilities there. Priority will be given to Utah companies that support local family farms throughout the state. By creating a place for these facilities to exist they will be protected from future residential encroachment and vice versa. The project is currently in the planning and analysis phase. The Six County Association of Governments (AOG) is working with key stakeholders to identify project considerations and has started an Infrastructure and Economic Assessment to determine the best way to implement their vision for the Agri-Park.
Q. Why is there a need for the Agri-Park?
A. There is a shortage of agricultural processing capacity in Utah. For instance, much of Utah’s food production is shipped out of state for processing and then brought back for consumption. In other words, there is a deficit between the consumption demand and the food processing capacity in the State. A primary example of this is cattle, with an estimated 750 head imported for consumption each day. Because of this, the preliminary focus of the Agri-Park will be to attract animal processing facilities such as slaughterhouses in addition to their support industries. The number and type of industries encouraged to locate their facilities at the Agri-Park will expand through future project phases as the Agri-Park grows.
Q. Where will the Agri-Park be located?
A. Planning efforts are ongoing to find a suitable location in the Juab Valley south of Nephi or another suitable location.
Q. Will the Agri-Park compete with other companies in Utah?
A. The intent of the Agri-Park project is not to construct agricultural processing facilities. Rather, the intent of this project is to create a governance framework and infrastructure that can attract companies that would like to construct their own facilities at the Agri-Park.
Q. What sort of governance structure will be created to manage the Agri-Park?
A. The Six County AOG is committed to developing the right type of governance structure to correctly manage Agri-Park decisions and provide appropriate accountability for the use of funding. Several governance structures are being investigated for the Agri-Park including special service districts, local districts, and state authorities. The governance structure will need to provide a formal framework for the following: the allocation of funding, identifying future funding needs, defining project scope and goals, managing project timelines, representing the interests of all partners, and distributing risk to appropriate parties.
Q. What infrastructure will be provided for the Agri-Park?
A. The infrastructure components that are being assessed for the Agri-Park include culinary source water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, stormwater, transportation, electric power, natural gas, and fiber optics. In general, many infrastructure components are being considered to determine the best benefit to the Agri-Park.
Q. How will water be obtained for the Agri-Park?
A. An engineering review of the area has found that there is underground water that could be obtained for the project. Said opportunities are tied to identifying those that hold a sufficient quantity of water rights that would be willing to sell or lease the water rights for the Agri-Park. Preliminary findings show that there are large water right holders in the area that could be approached. Water rights obtained would be used to drill new wells to provide the necessary water. The Six County AOG is also investigating partnering opportunities with nearby communities to supply the water right and water.
Q. Have any studies been performed to evaluate the aquifer in the area?
A. Yes. A USGS groundwater study was recently released in December 2022 titled “Hydrology, Groundwater Chemistry and Water Budget of Juab Valley, Eastern Juab County, Utah”. The findings of this study are highly relevant to the project and are being considered in evaluations.
Q.What is the vision of the Agri-Park?
A. The vision of the Agri-Park is to save Utah family farms, increase access to processing for Utah agricultural producers, improve Utah’s agricultural economic output, and improve Utah’s food security.
Q. What is the benefit to local farmers and producers?
A. There is a large cost to Utah farmers and producers associated with shipping agricultural products out of state for processing. Providing local animal, food, and other agricultural processing facilities will reduce these costs and generate more opportunities for economic viability, growth, and development. A key focus of the Agri-Park is to benefit local farmers and producers in Utah. Constraints and incentives may be implemented in order to provide the most benefit for local Utah farms. The regional approach for strategic planning and growth developed for the Agri-Park could also provide a framework and example to other regions in Utah, multiplying the benefits to local farmers and producers.
Q. What types of industries will be encouraged to come to the Agri-Park?
A. Industries encouraged to come to the Agri-Park will be varied. Some of these industries may include beef, pork, and poultry processing facilities, slaughterhouses, feedlots, animal rendering plants, smoke houses, grain mills, feed creation plants, compressed hay operations, dairy processing, wool processing, fruit and vegetable processing, box plants, packing, staging, shipping, logistical hubs, and other support industries. It will be largely dependent on the private sector to determine which industries are interested and able to locate their facilities at the Agri-Park.
Q. How will the Agri-Park be funded?
A. Counties in the Six County AOG have contributed funds for the preliminary project work. In 2023, the Utah Legislature allocated $8M toward the purchase of land, water, and to begin the establishment of the park. A line item in the Governor’s budget and a bill with a request for $20M has been submitted to the state legislature for their consideration in the 2024 legislative session. Many other federal and state funding opportunities are also being investigated. Revenue generated through the Agri-Park could be used to pay back funding loans, or alternatively, to fund new infrastructure improvements. If the revenue is used to fund the infrastructure improvements then the Agri-Park would be less likely to have to seek additional funding through the state legislature or other funding sources as new improvements become necessary.
Q. What is the return on investment for entities providing funding for the Agri-Park?
A. Currently, the ROI is unknown. This will be determined as the project evolves and through decisions made by the governing body. The true return on investment is by providing a significant benefit to local farmers and producers.
Q. How will wastewater treatment be handled?
A. Wastewater treatment is a critical concern for many animal processing facilities looking to locate in the state. Full wastewater treatment can be cost prohibitive and partnering with municipalities is difficult because they often do not have the capacity to handle the high wastewater loadings associated with animal processing. It is currently anticipated that each industry will provide some pre-treatment to bring their effluent to domestic levels. Agri-Park facilities would then discharge to a district system.
Q. What role does reuse and reclaim play in water resource management?
A. Reuse and reclaim can happen on two levels, both are being investigated and may play into policies that are implemented for the Agri-Park. The first is the local level, for example when individual facilities recapture and reclaim their water to reuse in their own systems. The second is at the district level, which includes larger scale technologies to treat wastewater so that it can be reused as secondary water, process water, or washdown water.
If you have additional questions, please contact:
Central Utah Agri-Park Director