Guest column

Agriculture adds to the richness of Colorado life

Column by Don Brown
Posted 1/23/17

Most Coloradans did not grow up in a rural area and have never been on a farm or ranch, yet the people of Colorado support agriculture's positive contribution to the quality of life in our …

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Guest column

Agriculture adds to the richness of Colorado life

Posted

Most Coloradans did not grow up in a rural area and have never been on a farm or ranch, yet the people of Colorado support agriculture's positive contribution to the quality of life in our state.

In a recent survey conducted for the Colorado Department of Agriculture by Colorado State University, 90 percent of Coloradans feel agriculture is important to their quality of life. Nearly all Coloradans feel that maintaining and protecting agricultural land and water is important (95 percent).

It has been a tough year for agriculture in Colorado, with prices for beef cattle and milk and major crops like corn, wheat and hay in decline. It costs farmers more to plant and harvest their fields than they can make selling their crops at today's prices. Price levels for many farm products have returned to lows seen in the 1980s, but farmers' costs for tractors, feed and seed, and fuel have increased with inflation.

Yet our Colorado producers continue to provide food that feeds Coloradans and the world. Colorado's agricultural community brings your family more food and fiber choices than ever, from conventionally produced to natural, organic, grass-fed and cage-free. All of which are wholesome and necessary to feed a growing population. Whether you shop at a large grocery store or your local farmers' market, Colorado's entrepreneurial farmers and ranchers provide a safe and secure food supply. It's this diversity that makes our food production systems the envy of the world.

Cutting into a prime Colorado steak, biting into a Palisade peach, eating a juicy Rocky Ford melon, and enjoying the fire of a Pueblo chile, all accompanied by a Colorado wine or beer - it's all part of the privilege of living in this state and enjoying our local foods.

Whether you know it or not, Colorado agriculture touches everyone in the state.

Agriculture is an important part of our economy, generating more than $40 billion in economic activity annually and supporting more than 170,000 jobs. Jobs in transportation, retail sales, food sales and restaurants, and tourism are just a few supported by agriculture.

As well as contributing to the economy, agriculture holds a tremendous duty to protect the environment, through stewardship of the land, water and air. Land in farms and ranches provides habitat for wildlife and open space and, above all, creating wonderful food. Innovative and sustainable farming practices ensure that our state's resources will be wisely managed for generations to come. The majority of Coloradans surveyed felt that agriculture was always or usually environmentally responsible.

Colorado farmers and ranchers, with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, are dedicated to preserving the heritage of agriculture in our state, as well as providing an abundant and safe food supply to Coloradans and beyond. We were glad to hear that our neighbors around the state support us in our endeavors. Give us a wave when you drive by.

For more information and to read the complete survey, visit www.coloradoagriculture.com.

Don Brown is the commissioner of agriculture for Colorado, appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in January 2015. He can be reached at don.brown@state.co.us.

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