Colorado Proud Next Generation of Ag Symposium Examined Local Agriculture’s Economy, Environment, Technology, Innovation and Culture
Attended by government officials, industry experts and Colorado Proud members
DENVER, Oct. 16, 2019 – This morning, Colorado’s foremost food, agriculture and innovation experts led a lively panel discussion about every angle of the “next generation of local agriculture” – from the economy and environment, to technology and culture — during an informative Next Generation of Ag symposium, hosted by Colorado Proud, a program of the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The Next Generation of Ag theme put an umbrella over every aspect of agriculture that’s growing and changing – and that is impacting Colorado. Held at Balistreri Vineyards, a Colorado Proud member, the symposium connected panelists with industry peers, sharing conversations about complex agriculture issues, trends, solutions and relationships.
The following panelists led the discussion, responding to questions in their areas of expertise and guiding an open dialog about relevant topics noted below:
· Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg: Keynote on goals for Colorado agriculture, as well as moderator for the panel discussion
· Tighe Brown, president, Big Green: Colorado’s changing food culture, school/education for the next generation
· Will Johnson, CEO, Flying Diamond Ranch: Multi-generational farming, the business of agriculture, resources
· Don Marvin, chairman and acting CEO, Concentric Ag Corporation: Technology, innovation, new applications, water and soil health
· Roberto Meza, founder, Emerald Gardens Microgreens: First-generation farming, getting started in ag, land access, education
· Kris Staaf, senior director of public affairs, Safeway: Local food business, retailer landscape, consumer trends
· Dr. Amanda Weaver, professor, University of Colorado, Denver: Academic perspective on farming and resources, innovation, changing market trends
“We are experiencing a swing in agriculture, from a general focus on food to a zoomed lens on the next generation of innovation and consumer engagement, that’s driving a cultural shift in Colorado. Today’s symposium captured the complexity and curiosity about what’s next for agriculture, as told though the stories, ideas and predictions of our state’s leading industry experts,” said Wendy White, Colorado Proud spokesperson.
The panelists shared information about the future of farming and technology; new systems for soil, water and climate; advances for greater accessibility and efficiency; changing demographics of multi-generational vs. beginning farmers; consumers’ “local appetite” for locally-grown foods; the role of schools in educating the next generation through “farm to school” programs; economic and environmental impact of agriculture; trade issues; best practices; and Colorado’s local initiatives. In addition, the panelists shared their personal and professional experiences, connected by their work and love for agriculture.
“Today’s symposium helped educate ag producers and businesses about the next generation of technology, innovation and resources, which impact the way we practice agriculture, the way we eat and, most importantly, the way we live,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “While local agriculture has proved its positive impact on the economy, it is also better for the environment, our state’s heritage and iconic lifestyle. Agriculture is also an important part of our state’s history — and our future, the inspiration for today’s dialog about the next generation.”
Agriculture Advances Colorado
Agriculture is an important economic driver in the state, consistently ranking as one of Colorado’s leading industries and is in the top 10 nationally for production of a variety of agricultural products. With more than 38,000 farms encompassing nearly 32 million acres, agriculture is a vital part of Colorado, supporting more than 170,000 jobs, contributing more than $40 billion to the state’s economy annually, and exporting nearly $2 billion in products every year.
About Colorado Proud
The Colorado Proud Program was created by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 1999, to promote food and agricultural products that are grown, raised or processed in Colorado. One of the goals of Colorado Proud is to make it easier for consumers to identify and purchase Colorado products by labeling them with the Colorado Proud logo. In 1999, Colorado Proud started with 65 companies; and in 2019, its 20th anniversary year, the program has more than 2,700 members, including farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, restaurants, retailers, schools and associations statewide. Additional media materials can be found in the Colorado Proud newsroom.