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Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Takes Southeast State Tour

 

 

Lamar Community College was the last stop of the evening for Kate Greenberg, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, this past Thursday, June 20th.  Greenberg, who has been Commissioner since the start of the year, held a meet and greet with area ag producers, ranchers and the public in general at the college’s library, capping a day long visit to Mauch Farms, Colorado Mills and Ragsdale/Stulp Farms.

Greenberg, who hails from Durango, said she’s been on the go since her appointment earlier this year and Prowers County was a scheduled stop on her most recent tour.

Dr. Linda Lujan

LCC President, Dr. Linda Lujan, stated, “Lamar Community College is very happy to host this event because we are on the move to re-become the premier ag school in Colorado. Our programs are being ramped up with Precision Ag this fall and will develop into a whole program by 2020.  We intend to become the operational area for regional students in this field.”

Greenberg and John Stulp

Former State Agriculture Commissioner and local farmer, John Stulp told the gathering he has known Greenberg for several years through their work in water policy. “She was state and regional director for the National Young Farmers Coalition and is a hard worker, involved with agriculture for a younger generation in these fields.  She’s a great choice for the first woman to hold this position in the long history of commissioners and this fits perfectly with the increase in women in the state’s General Assembly.”

RMFU President, Dale McCall

Greenberg’s tour was sponsored in part by the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union. RMFU President, Dale McCall, stated he has had a long friendship with John Stulp.  “The RMFU has members in three states, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming and we perform advocacy work on behalf of family farmers and ranchers.  We want to help acquaint Kate to all of the producers in eastern Colorado and we have hosted several of these.  It’s important to know each other, especially as there are so few of us.  We need to stick together on ag policy issues.  Ag is still a major economic contributor, and we need to let our city cousins understand how important ag is on state vitality.”

Greenberg said she’s filling big shoes in her new capacity and it has helped with the pathway to do this job well. “This is our 12th visit, and I see no end to the tour, as it will be ongoing in my capacity as ag commissioner to become acquainted with everyone through the years of my coming service.”  She laid out her background and qualifications, having served on the National Young Farmers Coalition for six years with a focus on farmer led policy reform especially stressed.  I’m also involved with next generation policy issues, what policies appeal to them, making sure there is an ease for pass down in family farming as well as what policy changes will impact the next generation involving our farms and ranches.”  She said other issues included capital financing, inheritance succession, land access and affordability, water policy and interstate water issues.  One of the newer and undeveloped areas is commercial hemp production in Colorado.

Stulp with New PEP Ex Dir, Tara Smith-Hosick

 

Some legislative issues that are being offered include 50% cost sharing for ag businesses that hire interns. “Right now there are 20 across the state being paid to work on farms and ranches.  Our focus is on ag education while getting paid to learn, how to get into an ag business and serving as a natural pathway to young workers to invest in themselves in an agricultural profession.”  Greenberg explained that she supports high value ag and diverse market opportunities as a means to expand businesses.

“This is the 20th anniversary of Colorado Proud.  The funding was to advance the Colorado brand and products and our teams are working to bring our businesses to international buyers.”

Regarding hemp, she said it’s become a whole new world with the 2018 farm bill. “We are seeing lots of registrations for hemp operations and we’re working on a model of what the hemp industry will look like statewide.  This goes beyond the farm bill with involvement in transportation, banking and insurance and we currently have 160 stake holders and applications to be a part of the process and become a framework for the future.”

Her departments are also involved in stewardship and are being led by state farmers. “We see pressure on water resources from the front range and downstream states, and all of you know that kind of pressure on ag in this locale.  We’re working with young farmers in conservation areas.  We want to help keep water on our land and continue the work already done.

A more grim aspect of her department’s work follows that which has been done by her predecessor, Don Brown, with partnerships with RMFU and CSU to develop an Agricultural Crisis Hot Line to deal with suicides in the ag industry. “We’re training call answerers on how to work and specifically serve the agricultural community with their needs.”

Greenberg’s visit was the next to last stop on her leg through southeast Colorado as most of Friday was spent visiting operations in the Rocky Ford area.

By Russ Baldwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed Under: AgricultureCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEducationEnvironmentFeaturedUtilitiesWaterYouth

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