rural

Sarah Jane Hardt

Four California activists are pleading not guilty to charges that they violated Utah’s controversial ag-gag law when they took pictures of a pig farm in Milford. They may be the first defendants prosecuted under the law.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is encouraging rural Utahns to sign up for health insurance before the federal deadline on Monday. Secretary Vilsack says that Utahns who live in rural areas have a lot to gain from the federal Affordable Care Act.

Brian Grimmett

Local leaders and Utah lawmakers representing rural areas of the state gathered at the State Capitol today for the legislatures annual Rural Day to discuss their priorities for this year’s legislative session.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, who is himself a former rural legislator from Fairview, Utah, spent about a half hour talking with the group about the challenges rural areas face and some of the potential solutions.

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.

Utah Legislature

The Utah Republican party is welcoming former Democratic state representative Christine Watkins with open arms after her recent decision to join the GOP. Watkins, who has served her district near Price for four years, was considered a conservative democrat in the legislature and often sided with Republicans on issues like energy development. Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright says those shared values are some of the reasons why Watkins decided to make the switch.