Colorado Ag Connection | August 2023

This summer has given us many opportunities to show our resilience and pride in our communities.

CDA recently had the privilege of hosting our Western neighbors from the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture. State agriculture commissioners, directors and secretaries from across the West joined us to discuss top policy issues, explore the CSU Spur campus, and enjoy the hospitality of the legendary Brown Palace and Ag Commission member, Nick Trainor, whose Lowry Ranch/State Land Board lease in Watkins was the focus of our field tour.

We were pleased to be joined by U.S. Senator and Senate Ag Committee member Michael Bennet, U.S. Representative and House Ag Committee member Yadira Caraveo, and USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie.

Throughout the event, we wanted to highlight not only the innovations and hard work of our agricultural communities, but the people involved in that work. In Colorado, we recognize that none of our programs, grants, projects, or daily operations would be worth much without the people element.

This year, CDA launched the first-ever WASDA scholarship in partnership with MANRRS: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences. Seven student leaders in food and agriculture from across the country were selected as scholars and joined the event. Our partnership with MANRRS is a promise to the next generation that we value their perspectives and need their participation now, not just in the future.

In that vein, our meeting kicked off with a youth leadership panel, with high school and college students from the STEAD School in Commerce City, Soroco FFA in South Routt County, Fort Lewis College’s beginning farmer incubator program, and national MANRRS. What incredible work taking place in ag education across the state!

The farm-to-table dinner at May Farms in Byers pulled the theme together through our keynote speaker, Robert Sakata. Robert is well known for his ability to speak across aisles and convey the humanity behind farming. His memories of his father, Bob Sakata’s journey to Colorado and sage wisdom over the years, reminded those of us in policy that we have to consider the whole of our communities when making decisions.

We had many issues to discuss with our Western neighbors that are weighing heavily on us all. The recent spate of pest problems, heavy storms in the east, and the looming Farm Bill are just a few of the signposts affecting our future goals and priorities.

When we have a chance to share our stories and listen to each other’s experiences, we’re strengthening our relationships and closing the gap of understanding so that we can move forward on these issues. I look forward to continuing to hear your stories and finding ways that CDA can support and elevate your work.

Commissioner Kate Greenberg

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