During the 2022 Ag Week, what better way to celebrate the industry than learning a bit more about who and what makes Colorado agriculture so great? Check out the information below and learn more about the wonderful farmers and ranchers that call Colorado home and the amazing food they grow.
Who We Are
Colorado agriculture is the second largest industry in the state, contributing over 40 billion dollars to the economy each year through crops, feed, livestock, equipment, and more. Additionally, agriculture creates 170,000 jobs, annually. Whether it’s working cattle, growing vegetables, or working in agri-business, the people that make up Colorado agriculture pride themselves in putting food on people’s tables and keeping the historic tradition of the industry alive.
What We Grow
About 38,800 farms, spread across 31.8 million acres, call Colorado home. The Centennial State is the number one producer for millet in the country and ranks in the top 10 for another 20 commodities that we grow. Not to mention, Weld County consistently ranks in the top ten agricultural producing counties in the country, all by itself.
Ranchers raise a LOT of cattle and calves in the state, but winter wheat, sheep, lamb, wool, alfalfa, potatoes, onions, peaches, grapes, and melons aren’t to be forgotten. There’s nothing better than a fresh Palisade peach or a Rocky Ford melon and thankfully, they’re easy to find when harvest comes in the fall. When you are in the grocery store, look for the “Colorado Proud” sticker in the produce aisle, it’s a sign your peach or potato was grown by one of our many incredible farmers.
What We Face
There are many challenges that we face as a state, but it’s important to remember that successful farmers and ranchers and a strong agriculture industry are vital to a thriving Colorado. Whether it’s caring for the environment and our natural resources, producing a safe and secure food supply, or caring for our animals and wildlife, farmers and ranchers are committed to making the state a great place to live and work. In fact, they’ve been doing this for generations.
As the original stewards of the land, farmers and ranchers do all they can to protect and care for our natural resources like land and water. Ranchers graze cattle in the wilderness and on unproductive land that would otherwise be unusable, helping keep grasslands and forests healthy and thriving. Technology and innovation have helped farmers use less water and grow crops that are resistant to drought and tolerate more severe weather. Utilizing research from Colorado State University and other leading organizations, Colorado agriculture makes some of the highest quality and safest products that are shipped across the country and around the world. Through partnerships with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, ranchers have helped create habitat for endangered species, such as the black-footed ferret, and hand in hand with local wildlife officials, ranchers work to manage interactions with predators and other wildlife.
Times haven’t been easy for many Coloradans. The COVID-19 pandemic has had broad impacts across our economic, social, and political lives. For agriculture, input costs continue to rise as they did even before the pandemic, drought puts pressure on the state’s already tight water supply, and now the conflict in Ukraine is impacting energy prices and supplies of important goods like fertilizer and grains. Additionally, increasing urbanization in the state has highlighted the need for agriculture to advocate for the work it does as people get further away from the farm. Recent issues such as wolf introduction, Initiative 16, and an overreaching ag labor bill threaten to harm the future of the agriculture industry.
However, despite the difficult times, farmers and ranchers are up for the challenge. In fact, they’ve been overcoming obstacles for generations, and a thriving industry means a thriving state. During Ag Week we celebrate all that agriculture has done for the state, knowing the challenges Coloradans faces will only be overcome when we tackle them together – that’s the Colorado way.