The Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is retiring after eight years in that job. Leonard Blackham’s tenure included a four-year battle to keep Japanese beetles from getting established in Utah.
“I mean, if that got away from us," Blackham told KUER, "we would have had infestations of that occasionally like we do with Mormon crickets and that kinda bugs. People would have looked out their window one morning and their garden would have been gone.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding a program into Utah that is aimed at helping rural counties escape the grasp of persistent poverty.
The new StrikeForce Initiative brings together agencies within the USDA in an attempt to better coordinate efforts to spur economic development in rural counties. Dave Conine is the Rural Development state director. He says by making knowledge and resources available through things like micro-loans that they’ll be able to make a real difference.