SYRACUSE -- Top of Utah farmers aren't sure they can change any minds about the West Davis Corridor, but they're glad they at least have a voice.
On Tuesday morning, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food led transportation officials on an agriculture-oriented tour of the proposed West Davis Corridor.
The tour was attended by representatives from the Utah Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
The tour took officials through three Davis County farms that would be affected by UDOT's final three alignments for the road. The tour also went through the Bay View Duck Club to observe the integration of agriculture, wetlands and wildlife.
The farms on the tour -- all in Syracuse -- were Black Island Farms, Hamblin's Dairy and Utah Onions.
"We're learning a lot," West Davis Project Manager Randy Jeffries said. "We're trying to learn all that we can about these farms and what they do. This information is invaluable to us."
Jeffries said the group has already submitted plenty of helpful information to UDOT and is continuing to do so. UDOT extended its deadline for public comment so the farmers and other groups could submit information that will be used to help refine the remaining alternatives.
The farmers want UDOT to add a modified version of a route that was identified in a study conducted by the Wasatch Front Regional Council in 2001 to its list of the final three alternatives.
The modified route, designed by Layton-based Pinnacle Engineering and Land Surveying Inc., traverses Bluff Road and would have far less impact on farmland than the state's final three alternatives.
UDAF Commissioner Leonard Blackham said a road through prime farmland could have a devastating effect on the entire Top of Utah farming community.
"In the end, a farm has to be profitable to continue operating," he said. "And if a road comes through here, that will have a big impact."
Blackham said Davis and Weber county farms generate more than $73 million for the Utah economy.
"You don't really understand how much these farms mean until you come out and see them in person," Blackham said. "We're glad we can have our side of the story heard and to show the folks who are involved with the corridor exactly what these farms do."
Blackham said farms aren't stand-alone businesses and they have a symbiotic relationship with one another. When one farm goes away, others are likely to follow.
"We exchange water, tractor work, manure -- it's a community thing," said Stan Hamblin, who owns Hamblin's Dairy, a farm that has been in Davis County for 107 years. "America has never really gone hungry, and that's largely because of our farms. But when we have to depend on other countries to supply our food, we're going to be in trouble."
Hamblin's farm, the last operating dairy farm in Davis County, has 230 cows.
"We are trying everything we can to demonstrate how important farm ground is," Hamblin said. "Davis County is just a drop in the bucket compared to the Midwest, but this kind of thing is happening all over the country. Farms are vanishing, and if you take enough drops out of the bucket, pretty soon it's going to be dry."