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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Utah Studies


Changes & Challenges (2000s): Recession and Expansion

Grade Level(s)

6 - 8

Purpose

Students will observe agricultural trends that set the stage for the new millennium and will connect their new knowledge of history to their present lives and projections for the future.

Estimated Time

45 minutes

Materials Needed

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Vocabulary Words

  • Utah's Own: An organization that develops ties between Utah producers and consumers, supporting the local economy
  • organic: being, involving, or producing food grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals

Background Agricultural Connections

Screen 13, Agriculture in the 2000s, Narrative

Following Utah's entry into the new millennium, the number of Utahns living in rural areas continued to drop to just 11 percent. Although the number of farms increased to more than 16,000, the size of those farms decreased to an average 669 acres. This meant that 11.1 million acres, or 21 percent of Utah's total land, was farmland. While cattle and milk remained the state's most important livestock products, hogs, mink pelts, and eggs were also important. Hay, used for feeding dairy cows, continued to be Utah's most important crop. With the urban population growth, the sales of greenhouse and nursery products, like trees, shrubs, and flowers increased significantly. As Utah moved into the 21st century, people concerned about the loss of farmland began organizing efforts to preserve what was left. Concerns about food safety, the long-term effects of pesticides, and questions related to genetically modified foods, led to a growing demand for sustainable agriculture, organic foods, and locally grown products. To help stimulate the economy and stem rising food costs caused by high transportation expenses, the state of Utah introduced a large marketing campaign to promote "Utah's Own." The campaign encouraged Utahns to purchase food produced in Utah and in their own communities. Increasing economic uncertainty gave rise to countless farmer's markets and new companies selling bulk foods for emergency food storage.

Will the new millennium lead to a large-scale movement by Utahns to return to the self-sufficiency of their pioneer heritage, or will we continue to become ever more connected to the global marketplace? Will we work harder to protect Utah farmland and support those who raise and grow our food or will we buy more of our food from foreign countries? What changes and challenges lie ahead for the next century of Utah agriculture?

Changes & Challenges Unit

This lesson is one in a series of lessons designed to accompany the Utah Studies course taught throughout Utah. The unit explores the settlement of Utah, the self-sufficient nature of the state's people, and the future of Utah agriculture and agricultural land. The Changes & Challenges multimedia teaching tool accompanies the following lessons:

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. View the Agriculture after 2000 section of the Changes and Challenges multimedia program with your students.
  2. Discuss the associated questions:
    • Will Utahns return to the self-sufficiency of their pioneer heritage, or will we continue to become ever more connected to the global marketplace?
    • Will we work harder to protect Utah farmland and support those who raise and grow our food, or will we buy more of our food from foreign countries?
    • What changes and challenges lie ahead for the next century of Utah agriculture?

Procedures

  1. Open the picture link titled "Private Land Use" in the Changes & Challenges multimedia presentation, and discuss reasons why there is so much Federal land and so little private land in Utah.
  2. Open the picture link "Comparing Utah Land Use Over Time" and explore the graph with students. Discuss the associated
     questions:
    • What trend(s) do you see?
    • What do they mean?
    • What do you think causes the rise and fall of these trends?
  3. Open the web link "Farmland Preservation" and visit the American Farmland Trust website to learn about the history and mission of the organization. Discuss with students whether or not it is necessary to preserve farmland.
  4. Discuss with students the difference between locally produced food and organic food. Organic food is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, according to the specifications of the United States Department of Agriculture. Locally produced food can be organic, but it isn't always. Buying locally produced food helps support the local economy. 
  5. Open the Utah's Own web link and show students the webquest. Either provide time in class with computer access for students to complete the webquest or provide students with the link (http://bit.ly/UtahsOwn) so they can complete it at home.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Agriculture plays an important role in the Utah economy.
  • The economic choices people make, such as buying locally produced food, have both present and future consequences.
  • Agriculture and housing often compete for the same land, and both types of land use have environmental, social, and economic effects. 
Optional

Use the PowerPoint Reviewing a Century of Utah Agriculture to review the information covered in the entire Changes & Challenges unit.

Suggested Companion Resources

Author(s)

Debra Spielmaker

Organization Affiliation

Utah Agriculture in the Classroom


State Standards for Utah
Grade 7: Social Studies Standard 4
Students will understand the diverse ways people make a living in Utah.
Objective 2
  • Investigate the past and present role of agriculture in Utah. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Identify the importance of farming and ranching to Utah's economy.
    2. Explain the impact the Great Depression on farmers and agriculture.
    3. investigate how agriculture has diversified and improved over time.
    4. Examine the cultural legacy of agriculture in Utah.
Grade 7: Social Studies Standard 1
Students will understand the interaction between Utah's geography and its inhabitants.
Objective 1
  • Investigate the relationship between physical geography and Utah's settlement, land use, and economy. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Read and interpret a variety of maps.
    2. Identify the physical features and regions of Utah.
    3. Compare and contrast the relationship between physical features and regions to settlement, land use, and the economy.
Objective 3
  • Assess how natural resources sustain and enhance people's lives. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Recognize the impact of water, minerals, wildlife, and forests on people.
    2. Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources.
    3. Analyze how natural resources improve the quality of life.
    4. Assess the importance of protecting and preserving natural resources.
Objective 4
  • Examine how people affect the geography of Utah. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Identify Utah's counties and cities.
    2. Assess how people change the landscape.
    3. Examine how altered landscapes affect people.