Tag Archives: Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture

Saguache News – September 27

Agricultural News: Funding and Photos

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Ranching has been part of the San Luis Valley for generations, producing top-quality beef for the dinner table. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

There is some agricultural news coming out from the state folks that might be of interest to those living in Saguache Today. The first news brief provides information about funding available for agricultural hydropower projects. The second offers details on a photo contest that has an agricultural twist. Here’s some agricultural #NewsYouCanUse.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are seeking applicants for on-farm agricultural hydropower projects. The total amount of available assistance for this round is $1,200,000. The funding is available to Colorado agricultural irrigators with appropriate hydropower resources. 

“This program gives producers a way to cut their costs and use their resources efficiently. It’s about water quantity, water quality, and energy resources,” said Sam Anderson, CDA’s Energy Specialist, “We focus on helping farmers upgrade outdated and labor-intensive flood-irrigation systems to more efficient pressurized-irrigation systems using hydropower, or retrofit existing sprinkler systems with a hydropower component.” 

The funding is part of the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Within RCPP, the Colorado irrigation hydropower program provides funding to agricultural producers to help them add hydropower to new or existing irrigation systems. 

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Saguache is part of the major hay-producing San Luis Valley region. It is also second behind potatoes as the Valley’s most harvested crop. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

For example, past projects have helped farmers use irrigation water to generate electricity, offsetting some of the cost of power for those farms. Other projects have allowed farmers to run large center-pivot sprinkler systems on hydro-mechanical power without the need for any electricity. 

The overall hydro program is funded and assisted by 14 agencies and groups, collectively contributing $3 million to the effort for project funding and technical assistance for Colorado agricultural producers. 

CDA is currently accepting applications for the next round of RCPP irrigation hydro projects. The application deadline is October 19, 2018.  Applicants must be eligible to receive funding from the NRCS EQIP program. For more information and to submit an application, visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s ACRE3hydropower website, or contact Sam Anderson at 303-869-9044 or CDA_hydro@state.co.us.

Photo Contest Focuses on “Spirit” of Agriculture 

Colorado’s agricultural landscapes provide the perfect subject for photographers. It’s once again time to capture the “spirit” of Colorado agriculture through pictures. The 21st annual “Colorado…it’s AgriCultural” photography contest is seeking entries as a way to celebrate the state’s agricultural heritage. 

“It is always exciting to see how people capture the beauty of agriculture in photos,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown. “The diversity of Colorado agriculture truly shines in this contest.” 

Entries must be submitted to the Colorado Department of Agriculture via e-mail with an official entry form by December 31, 2018. All photographs must be taken in the 2018 calendar year and must relate to Colorado agriculture in some way. Prizes will be awarded in six subject areas: crops, livestock, people, open professional, urban agriculture and ag from above. Amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to enter, however, professionals may only enter agriculture-related photographs in the “open professional” category. 

Judging will be based on theme, creativity and technical quality. The photographer whose picture best depicts the “spirit” of Colorado agriculture will receive $150, and category winners will receive a “Colorado…it’s AgriCultural” prize pack. All winning photographs will be displayed in the Beede-Hamil Agriculture Building at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., and will be posted online at www.coloradoagriculture.com

Visit www.coloradoagriculture.com/aginsights for complete contest rules and an entry form. The contest is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the AgInsights Committee and Northeastern Junior College.

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Enter YOUR photo in the “spirit” of Agriculture photo contest. The deadline is the end of the year, so start getting those photos together!




Saguache News – April 30

Trade Critical for Colorado Ranchers and Farmers

by Don Brown, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, April 2018

If you live in Colorado, or if your business is touched in any way by any aspect of the agricultural industry, the ongoing national discussion about trade agreements and import tariffs should mean a lot to you. Colorado farmers and ranchers understand that there are a lot of things like weather and market price fluctuations that we can’t control. But we can make every effort to create new market opportunities and expand the global partnerships we have worked so hard to develop for our products. 


The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) was founded in 1867 – nine years before Colorado became a state! As such, it became the first statewide cattlemen’s association in the nation.

We all need to work together to protect our state’s position in international markets. The Colorado farm community can’t afford to wait quietly for Washington to put forth a comprehensive trade strategy.  While we wait, our global competitors are moving aggressively to formalize trade pacts to put them at a competitive advantage to the U.S. It’s not right to force our hard-working farmers and ranchers to stand idle while this political drama plays out.

Colorado ranchers and farmers need free and open access to international markets, as well as trade agreements that help us advance our export relationships. Over the last few years, Colorado agriculture helped lead our state out of the Great Recession, the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a big part of that was our ability to trade with over 100 countries who purchase Colorado food and agricultural products.  Exports of food and agricultural products from Colorado have quadrupled in the past 20 years.

Agriculture is one of Colorado’s top economic sectors, creating approximately 173,000 jobs in our state.  And it’s not just farm and ranch families impacted by the free trade discussion.  If our markets are shut down, it will impact the dealerships where farmers buy farm equipment, the coffee shops where they eat lunch, the gas stations where they fuel up, and the banks where they do business.  According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, every billion dollars of exports supports more than 5,220 jobs. And every dollar of exports creates an additional $1.14 of economic activity for Colorado citizens. 

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is vital for the well-being of Colorado and the United States. As U.S. farm incomes decline, the export market is often what keeps our rural communities afloat.  In Colorado, nearly all of our 33,800 farms and ranches are family-owned. These are your friends and neighbors working long hours in the cold and heat to produce food for your family’s table.

We all need to raise our voices to oppose new tariffs and protect American farmers from the retaliation that will surely come from our trading partners with the imposition of tariffs on their products entering the U.S.  Not only would these tariffs hurt our farmers and ranchers, but import tariffs raise prices to American consumers. I am working collaboratively across agriculture, including Farmers for Free Trade, to help farmers and ranchers speak up in support of trade that expands export opportunities and strengthens US agriculture. See how you can get involved at www.farmersforfreetrade.com.    

Don Brown, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture

Multiple generations of my family have worked the same land in Yuma County for over a century and we can appreciate the complex problems Colorado ranchers and farmers face during difficult times.  When prices of commodities such as wheat and corn drop to 1980’s levels, and with the costs of operating that farm remains at 2017 levels, there is often a very fine line between a good year and a year when a family struggles to make a living.

The hard-working families making a living on our ranches and farms simply can’t afford to have their share of export revenue reduced. They are asking only for the right to trade in a fair and free global marketplace.

Writer Don Brown was appointed Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture in January of 2015. Brown, a third-generation farmer in Yuma County, has run several successful businesses while spending most of his career managing and growing his family’s extensive farm operations. He has also been active in water conservation, energy development and designing and implementing technological innovations within the industry. Read his FULL STORY HERE