David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsOctober 17, 201615min534

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, showing clear signs his race for CD3 has tightened in recent weeks, continues to aggressively call out former state Sen. Gail Schwartz for her comments and ads accusing Tipton of seeking to sell off federally owned public lands. Schwartz charges Tipton has sold out to coal mining and oil and gas companies and wants to transfer public lands to state or private ownership in order to increase domestic fossil fuel production. Schwartz, a Crested Butte Democrat who previously worked in ski-area design, favors preserving public lands to boost the outdoor recreation industry. “If we’re talking about outdoor recreation and protecting those public lands, let’s look at the Hermosa Creek bill that I had signed into law, that we were able to pass through a Republican-controlled Congress to be able to create those opportunities down in La Plata County,” Tipton said on a press call last month.

John SalazarMay 9, 20147min274

When people go shopping for food on their dinner table, they may consider its nutritious value and its cost, but many don’t consider the farmer and rancher behind every piece of food on their plate. For every bite you take, the agricultural community strives to provide a healthy, abundant food supply. But, let’s dig even deeper and on a global security level.

Each morning on the news, there are typically stories of terrorism across the globe. In a world that can sometimes seem unstable and hostile, it has become even more critical that we look at areas that could be exposed to
intentional acts of terrorism, and livestock health rates high on that list for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

While we focus on the day to day health and well-being of livestock, we must also be aware that agro-terrorism is a reasonable threat. It is vital that we prepare for serious incidents that could potentially devastate our livestock industry. This includes an intentional act of terrorism or an unintentional introduction of a foreign animal disease through the spread of a microbial agent.

Why is this important? The agricultural community plays a tremendous role in our way of life including our food and our economy.

In Colorado, agriculture represents an important component of our state’s overall economic health. Agriculture generates over $40 billion in economic activity, supports over 170,000 jobs across our state, and contributes $2 billion in exports annually.

Animal agriculture is a key part of that effort. In 2013, livestock and livestock products accounted for over 65 percent of all farm receipts in Colorado, with cash receipts for cattle and calves expected to reach a record high of $3.7 billion in 2014. Colorado ranks 10th nationally for cattle and calves production, second for sheep and lambs, third for wool production, and fifth for cattle that are on feed.

We have cattle and calves in virtually every county of the state. Dairy cows are increasing in numbers, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of Colorado, with the dairy industry’s economic impact growing daily. Hogs, pigs, sheep and lambs all contribute to the health of Colorado’s animal industry in important ways.

It has been estimated that on any given day in Colorado there are 50,000 head of cattle being transported. That is the norm for animal agriculture in many other states too. The U.S. pork industry estimates that there are over 600,000 head of swine “on wheels” each and every day in the U.S.

Movement of livestock in the U.S. not only increases our vulnerability to a foreign animal disease but also complicates our livestock emergency response efforts. But if the livestock industry has excessive restrictions placed on its movement, the restrictions could contribute to a very large economic loss during a disease outbreak.

As you can see, if there is a breakdown in Colorado’s livestock industry, it could create problems within our food system, economy and transportation.

As your agricultural arm of the State, we focus our efforts on protecting our livestock industry through planning and training for livestock emergency incidents. Some examples are:

• CDA livestock emergency disease response plans (www.colorado.gov/ag/animals)

• Building the Colorado Rapid Response for Agriculture and Livestock (CORRAL) – this is a program to train a ready reserve of livestock emergency responders and develop other resources for an effective and efficient response

• Colorado Secure Milk Supply Plan — a joint effort in the State to plan for the movement of milk during a disease outbreak, which will help to keep dairy farmers in business

• Development of agreements between Colorado animal health officials and our border states to collaborate on how to deal with the movement of livestock across state lines in the face of a significant livestock disease

• Planning for the disposal of livestock carcasses when there have been mass mortalities of animals

• The Colorado National Veterinary Stockpile Plan, which gives Colorado access to the national supply of veterinary supplies like equipment and vaccines to adequately respond to significant disease outbreaks

• Collaborating with Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Department of Transportation to develop plan for implementing livestock a movement controls and permitting to reduce the spread of disease when a major disease has been diagnosed

There is no question that a major outbreak of a foreign animal disease or an agro-terrorism incident in Colorado could do serious harm, threatening not only the livelihood of producers across the state but possibly increasing the health risks to the consuming public as well. At the end of the day, the result could be highly significant costs to both human and economic health.

As a state, we have to be prepared to respond to such a risk. It is critical that we understand that responding to an emergency — whether it be a terrorism incident or a disease outbreak —managing it and controlling it will require a concerted effort across multiple agencies involving many dedicated people. It will require collaboration, communication and teamwork between the states, federal entities and the livestock industry. To be effective and efficient we must be partners in preparedness, response and recovery.

John Salazar was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2011. He previously served three terms representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and was a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and the Transportation Committee. Before his time in Congress, Salazar served in the Colorado General Assembly for two terms.

John SalazarJanuary 6, 20144min282

What’s the weather going to be like today? For most of us the answer may mean putting on a jacket, grabbing an umbrella, or bundling up the kids for the school bus stop. But for a farmer and rancher, the answer can have a significant impact on their very economic well-being.

2013 showed just how weather can affect agriculture. The year began with a continuation of the severe drought of 2012. Below average snowpack in the mountains pointed to another dry year. A series of April snowstorms dumped heavy snow in the high country, elevating snow pack averages in the central and northern mountains. This brought renewed hope for many producers as the late storms added water to reservoirs, rivers, and irrigation ditches.

While snow brought some relief, a late freeze in Western Colorado damaged fruit and vegetable crops. Many growers of Palisade peaches suffered significant losses, reducing yields and the number of peaches available in retail stores and farm stands.

Conditions in Southeast Colorado continued to deteriorate, with hot, dry winds whipping up dustbowl like conditions. And in South Fork, a raging wildfire created problems for cattlemen who had moved their cattle into summer pastures threatened by the fast moving fire.

In early August, a violent hailstorm smashed hundreds of acres of vegetable crops in parts of Northern Colorado. Everything from lettuce, cabbage, squash, and green beans were destroyed, and corn stalks were stripped bare by the hail.

Finally, Mother Nature unleashed a historical torrent of rain in early September that resulted in thousands of acres of submerged cropland along the South Platte River and its tributaries. Farmers and ranchers are still struggling with crop losses, damage to irrigation ditches, silt, and debris.

Colorado agriculture faced many weather challenges in 2013. But our state’s farmers and ranchers are a resilient bunch. They understand that weather can be unpredictable, and that conditions can drastically change from week to week. Yet, they do the job they love and believe they are meant to do. Their determination in the face of adversity not only puts food on our tables, but results in economic opportunities for our state, as well.

For example, in 2013 agricultural exports will reach close to $2 billion, doubling the $1 billion in exports recorded in 2009. More and more of Colorado’s agricultural products are finding profitable markets in over 110 countries across the globe. And while net farm income will fall below what had been projected for the year, it will still be, at $1.58 billion, the third highest in our state’s history.

Already, we are seeing beneficial snows falling in the mountains, fueling optimism that this will be a good snow pack year. Producers are looking towards 2014 with high hopes and expectations about the weather and growing conditions. Farmers and ranchers may not always like the weather forecast, but they adapt and keep on doing what they do best — producing the food, fuel and fiber important to our state’s economy.

Governor Hickenlooper appointed John Salazar Commissioner of Agriculture in 2011 after the San Luis Valley native served three terms representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Before his time in Congress, Salazar served in the Colorado General Assembly for two years.

John SalazarNovember 16, 20125min246

When thinking about the goods or services that Colorado exports to other countries, agricultural products may not be the first thing that crosses your mind. Think again.

Agricultural exports have become increasingly important to our state’s economy, with high-quality, locally grown products sold from our farmers and ranchers to worldwide markets that are rich with opportunity. And these exports are growing rapidly, doubling since 2009 to $2.1 billion. I am excited about the continued growth of Colorado’s agricultural exports to international markets which contributes to Colorado’s economic vitality and enhances opportunity for all Coloradans.

From Canada to Mexico, to Japan and China, and all the way to Korea and Russia, products from Colorado’s farms and ranches are finding their way to these and other international destinations. Top agricultural exports include beef, hides, dairy, dry beans and wheat.

Overall, our biggest trading partners continue to be our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico, where the largest shares of Colorado agricultural products go but we’ve seen growth on the global level. In fact, exports to Japan have increased 52 percent to $48.5 million in the first eight months of 2012, part of the $120 million dollar increase in Colorado’s agricultural exports in the first eight months of 2012.

As for Colorado’s total exports to our key international markets, agricultural exports often contribute a major share. For example, agricultural exports accounted for 35.7 percent of Colorado’s total exports to Mexico, while accounting for 46 percent of our state’s total exports to China.

Access to open markets is critical to reaching foreign customers. It is important that our country’s trade representatives continue to fight for greater access to global markets for our agricultural products. Our most recent trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea are examples of the U.S. working to tear down trade barriers that block or reduce exports and improve access to customers in international markets. Without question, Colorado’s agricultural exports will continue to grow as we open and expand global markets and create new and exciting opportunities for our valued and quality products.

Governor Hickenlooper has been a strong advocate for Colorado agricultural products, encouraging buyers in international markets to become more familiar with our products. I joined the Governor in a trade mission to Mexico earlier this year where we met with current and potential buyers of Colorado products. One of the positive outcomes of this mission is that Mexico is expected to ease barriers allowing greater access for fresh potatoes.

This would be an especially important gain for San Luis Valley potato producers. Our meetings could also increase exports of beef and wheat to Mexico.

Agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of Colorado’s economic well-being. As more and more of our agricultural products find consumers across the globe, Colorado agriculture will boost our state’s economic growth and help create jobs. And that is not only good for agriculture — it is good for all Coloradans.

Commissioner of Agriculture John T. Salazar is a sixth-generation farmer and rancher. He served three terms representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. Before his time in Congress, Salazar served in the Colorado General Assembly for two years.
Salazar was raised on a San Luis Valley farm. He served on the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Forum and the Colorado Agricultural Commission before being elected as a state Representative in 2002. He was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture in 2011 by Gov. Hickenlooper.