Utah Canyon Country Business
Agriculture
Agriculture Agriculture has been an integral part of the economic base of San Juan County since the late 1800s, though crop production among indigenous peoples occurred in the area as early as 200 A.D.

The current focus of the county's agriculture is livestock, wheat, beans, safflower, and alfalfa. The production of fruits and vegetables has also been attempted, but on a limited basis. As of January 1, 1998, San Juan County ranchers produced 11,000 head of beef cattle as compared to 10,500 for the previous year. Milk cow production in the county is limited to the family farm.

Agricultural activities have generally been reduced in the county. Commodity prices no doubt account for a portion of this decline, but other factors are also at work, including the marginal nature of the historic agricultural base. Many of the areas cultivated as early as the 1970s are no longer in active production.

The number of farms in the county decreased from 231 in 1969 to 206 in 1998. In 1998 the Value of Sales per farm was 68 farms at $5,000 or under, seventy farms between $5,000 and $25,000, seventeen between $25,000 and $50,000, and 51 between $50,000 and $100,000.

The number of agricultural acres has also declined over the same period from 500,000 in 1969 to 325,000 acres in 1998. It should be noted here that these figures are for acres in production. The federal government instituted the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which took acres out of production although they remained farm acres. There are still many acres of farmland in the CRP.

Together with the decline in the number of farms and the number of acres in production is the fact that the average farm size has declined from 2,700 acres in 1969 to 1,600 acres in 1998. The national trend is toward an increase in both large (commercial) and small (family) farms with a decline of those of moderate size. San Juan County follows this trend. Most farm/ranch families have at least one member working full time off the farm to help support the rural way of life.