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Utah County Commission proposes 274.3-acre agricultural protection area

By Sarah Hunt - | Apr 22, 2023
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One of Rex Larsen's grandchildren sprays his 4-H cow with water on his family's ranch in Leland near Spanish Fork on Friday, April 21, 2023.
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Rex and Sherrie Larsen pose for a photo with two of their grandchildren next to one of the just-groomed beef cows on their ranch in Leland near Spanish Fork on Friday, April 21, 2023.
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Rex and Sherrie Larsen stand next to a restored truck belonging to Rex's father that was ordered from the Ford factory in 1977 and attached to a custom-made bed. This photo was taken on their ranch in Leland near Spanish Fork on Friday, April 21, 2023.
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One of Rex Larsen's grandchildren dries his 4-H cow with an air hose on his family's ranch in Leland near Spanish Fork on Friday, April 21, 2023

The Utah County Commission met last week to discuss the proposal of an agricultural protection area spanning 274.3 acres in Leland and Benjamin.

“I think you’ll have a hard time finding a commission that’s more excited about supporting (agriculture) and ag protection and I think this an exciting day and subject to discuss,” Brandon Gordon, Utah County Commission vice chair, said at the April 12 meeting.

If passed, this area would be protected from eminent domain and nuisance lawsuits initiated by cities, municipalities and utility companies. Several farmers and ranchers came out to the meeting to voice their opinions on the proposed area.

“The main reason we’re going after it is that Spanish Fork City is allowing a lot of potential subdivisions, and the latest one was a four-story, high-rise apartment building right next to the farmland in our area. We just want to have that added protection. … Right now, most of us just want to keep farming and do what we’ve been doing without harassment from newcomers,” said Leland farmer and rancher Rex Larsen.

Larsen’s great-grandfather started Larson Family Farms 154 years ago, creating a legacy for his children and grandchildren to carry on.

When asked by the Daily Herald why he enjoys farming and ranching, Larsen said, “Well, it kind of gets in your blood. It just becomes a part of your heritage, your legacy. I think back, if one of the generations before me sold out, how my life would be different because I hadn’t had the opportunity to be involved in farming and ranching. It’s a great place to raise a family and teach them how to work.”

In October, the Larsens run a corn maze and pumpkin patch. Almost every weekend of the season, they have all their family members there helping out, while cousins and grandkids play.

Larsen is working to add the land that his corn maze sits on to the protection area, which currently includes his ranch. He said he supports the agricultural protection area because he wants the family farm to continue for years to come.

Brent Money, a fourth-generation rancher in the area, shared the same sentiments. “I am completely for it,” Money said. “Because I am in the agriculture business full time — it’s not a part-time job — and as we get encroached by the cities and more residents, it will be good to have some type of protection in place.”

The son of former state Sen. Eldon Money, Brent Money recalled an agricultural protection area his father had created nearby that is still in place today. He expressed his hope that all farmers and ranchers in the vicinity would also support the creation of this new agricultural protection area.

“I think some people may be a little confused and think that if (their land is) in an agricultural protection area, that the ground has to remain an agricultural zone. I’ve talked to people before and they’ve said, ‘We don’t want to limit what we can do with our ground.’ But it doesn’t change your ability to sell your property, for a home to be honored, or even if you’re in the city to sell it to be subdivided. It’s to protect you. So I can’t think why anybody that’s farming would be opposed to it,” he said.


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