Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 8, 20173min396

Colorado’s senior U.S. senator may be a city slicker, but he’s no stranger to the state’s rural plains. Or to its farmers. Democrat Michael Bennet certainly seems comfortable enough in an agricultural setting; just look at this morning’s tweet from @SenBennetCO himself. So nice, we had to include it here. And it’s even on point…

…regarding an announcement today by Bennet’s office that he is cosponsoring the bipartisan Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act. The legislation aims to do as its name implies: improve access to the voluntary farm conservation programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Those programs, according to NRCS’s webpage, help farmers and ranchers reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Important and valuable stuff.

However, there are some wrinkles to getting enrolled, and Bennet’s legislation aims to smooth the way. He is quoted in a press release:

“Farmers and ranchers in Colorado are eager to enroll in conservation programs, but are often hindered by the onerous reporting requirements … This bill would remove the time-consuming and unnecessary reporting requirements for small farmers, making it easier for them to take advantage of tools to protect soil and water resources and improve wildlife habitat.”

The press release also notes:

Thousands of farmers and ranchers voluntarily participate in a wide range of conservation programs administered by the NRCS…



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 28, 20175min389


We tend to avoid blogging about the many press releases we get from Colorado’s Washington delegation “announcing” some grant or new funding stream to some program or another back home in Colorado. It’s not that we don’t think the programs themselves merit news coverage or that Colorado isn’t happy to have the extra funding; it’s that, typically, the lawmakers had about as much to do with dispensing the money as did any of the rest of us. They’re just looking to get some good press out of sharing the news.

Given the prevailing partisan acrimony in our nation’s capital, however, we’re happy to make an exception for a joint press release issued today by the offices of Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. To have a Democrat and a Republican appear together in the current climate on any announcement that isn’t a legal notice — or a fight card — is refreshing in its own right. What’s more, the topic in this case is something we all can agree on — one of Colorado’s most distinguished cash crops, the potato. Here’s the gist:

The Colorado State University (CSU) will receive $2.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study the integration of new technologies to manage potato pathogens in North American potato crops.

It’s welcome news, of course. It also gives us an excuse to post this fetching video on potatoes from Colorado’s famed San Luis Valley — and there’s not even a remotely political reference of any kind in it. Take a moment to view it and enjoy:

And here’s the rest of the press release, verbatim — our gift for the week to Bennet’s and Gardner’s press shops:

“Congratulations to Colorado State on receiving this grant to improve the treatment and management of potato pathogens,” Bennet said. “Potatoes are a critical part of our agricultural economy in Colorado. This grant is an investment in research that will assist potato growers across the country and protect future potato production”

 “It is critically important that the Department of Agriculture is working with our nation’s universities like Colorado State to support research that will assist our farmers with crop production,” Gardner said. “I’ve been a proud supporter of agriculture research through National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and believe this grant will be an asset to our potato farmers throughout Colorado.”

Bacterial potato pathogens such as blackleg and soft-rot cause significant crop losses on farms throughout the country. This grant will help integrate advanced technologies to manage and reduce the spread of these pathogens.  In June, Bennet and Gardner announced that Colorado State received a $264,600 USDA grant to study the spread of a new bacterial pathogen in U.S. potatoes. Together, the two grants will support critical efforts to protect U.S. potato farms.