In late October I had the opportunity to spend multiple days touring farms, ranches, and other ag operations across northeast Colorado. As Commissioner of Agriculture, meeting producers across our state is not only one of my favorite parts of the job, but one of the most important. It is critical for me to continue listening and learning from those whose lives revolve around agriculture, and that is precisely what this trip offered. The discussions with producers highlighted the very real obstacles in large and small scale production agriculture, but also showed the grit and determination of our industry to continue our way of life.

A major focus of the tour was the stark reality faced by the producers in the Republican River basin. Deb Daniel with the Republican River Water Conservation District and her board members have worked tirelessly with their community to mitigate the effects of drought.

The farmers and ranchers in the northeast are not the only ones facing a tough future. The irrigators in the Rio Grande basin to the south are also under obligations to meet aquifer sustainability by 2030. As climate conditions continue to dry out soils and limit water supplies, these producers are being forced to make tough choices as they continue to meet consumer demand.

Despite efforts by water conservation districts and water users in both basins to solve this challenge on their own, one bad drought year can push back years of progress. CDA strongly supports Governor Polis’s recent budget proposal, which would send $15 million to the Republican and Rio Grande River basins to help mitigate costs of reduced water usage. We are partnering with the Department of Natural Resources to aid the efforts of the communities in these areas.

As we look toward the legislative session beginning in about two months, our department will continue to invest in creating resilience in agricultural communities and improving our ability to respond to disasters. Agriculture is critical to Colorado and to the livelihoods of people across our state and CDA’s budget request is agile and responsive to the biggest threats ahead of us: water use challenges, the ongoing climate crisis, and emergency response to natural disasters.

Additionally, CDA is advocating for continued investment into high priority agricultural programs and services, such as specialty crops, soil health initiatives, drought resilience, clean energy, local markets, and agricultural events. We know these programs are integral to the success of agriculture in all areas of the state and in all of its forms.

Kate Greenberg
Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture