Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 1, 20182min562

Martha Smith Farm Bureau
Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, congratulates Martha Smith at the Capitol Wednesday for winning the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Rancher National Discussion Meet. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Farm Bureau)

Colorado lawmakers congratulated Martha Smith at the Capitol Wednesday for winning the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Rancher National Discussion Meet.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, delivered a speech to congratulate Smith and deliver a joint tribute from the House and Senate.

“Members, we have a hero here in front of us today,” he began.

He explained the winners from each state and have a boardroom discussion on how to help first-generation farmers. Participants are judged on their strength in making their points courteously.

“And, no, I have never won this contest,” Sonnenberg joked.

Smith is Colorado’s first national winner, winning the title over competitors from almost every state, and the Farm Bureau’s national meeting in Nashville this month. Her prize was a new Ford pickup truck.

“Martha was an outstanding representative for Colorado and for young farmers and ranchers across the country,” Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “It is talented people like her who will lead the agriculture industry into the next generation and help us continue to feed people around the world.”

Smith lives in Denver and is an area manager for Channel Seed. She is a native of Virginia and graduated from Iowa State.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 16, 20183min688
The Colorado Farm Bureau is proposing a ballot initiative that would compensate farmers when laws or regulations put their mineral rights out of reach. The text of Initiative 112 can be found by clicking here. Those affected would be paid the difference in fair market value before and after the new regulation was implemented on […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 21, 201717min408

Despite concerns earlier this year that the new Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies would lead to labor shortages across Colorado’s agricultural sector, growers and their advocates are breathing a sigh of relief as the harvest approaches, confident they’ll have the hands to pick and package what could be a bumper crop. But even though one component of the country’s sprawling immigration system appears to be working as it has been this summer, industry experts and a newly formed state coalition of business and civic leaders say that doesn’t mean the entire system is any less broken.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 1, 20173min393

Just last Friday we noted here that incendiary anti-fracking activist Andrew O’Connor of Lafayette was “poised to mount a petition drive for what could be the next big ballot battle with the oil and gas industry.” His proposal: doubling Colorado’s severance tax on oil and gas production. Not a fan of the industry, that O’Connor.

You’ll recall he also was the guy who had made headlines (and drove page clicks) with his endorsement of violence against fracking operations, as enunciated in a letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera. He told us in a follow-up chat, “I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a fracking site.

But as it turned out, by later the same Friday, a lot had changed: O’Connor still abhorred fracking, to be sure — but his ballot proposal was dead.

Although as we initially reported, the proposal’s ballot title had been set April 19 by the state’s title setting board — allowing O’Connor to begin petitioning the proposal onto the statewide ballot — a motion for a reconsideration was filed last Wednesday by attorneys for Chad Vorthmann (he’s executive V.P. of the Colorado Farm Bureau).  His motion contended among other things that O’Connor had made changes to the draft of his proposal after the public comment and review period, but he failed to indicate what those changes were. That left the title board in the dark.

The board agreed and on Friday reversed its previous decision, nixing the proposal. It ruled that without clear direction on what changes were made, the board lacked jurisdiction to approve the proposal.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley, not surprisingly, said it was all for the best:

This was a poorly structured ballot initiative from the beginning and the title board’s 3-0 ruling clearly showed its flaws. The entire state benefits from the current severance tax structure, which has provided a stable mechanism that has served us well for decades.

But will the outspoken O’Connor drop from the scene as quickly as his ballot proposal? We’ll guess he’s going to stick around a while.