Governor Polis, Being neither well educated nor well spoken, I feel unqualified to lend advice to you as a speech writer ... still, here we go. Two key points when addressing a specialized industry group (farmers, ranchers, rocket scientists, etc.) would be: 1) DO NO HARM, and 2) LEARN A FEW KEY FACTS (every industry has a few positive talking points.) On the way to the speech, jot them on a 3"x 5" card. An address to your agricultural constituents might go this way:
Dear farmers and ranchers of the great state of Colorado, I am proud to be here with you hard-working and sun-tanned citizens. You are the stewards of this great state and its bounty, while providing food for your family and ours. I thank you.
While traveling this beautiful state, I'm amazed how well you use sunlight, soil and water to produce our food and fiber we all depend on for life itself. While talking to farmers and ranchers, I have also learned some of the many advancements in technology you use every day. Modern technology has let you produce more at less cost, using less water, while reducing your carbon footprint. Every one of these advances makes us a more sustainable nation.
Mr. Rogers, a farmer and cattleman from Yuma has explained to me how in his lifetime irrigation has improved. From dirt ditches to pivot sprinklers, he can now control and communicate with them by using his cell phone. Together with moisture sensors in the soil, this saves water, reduces soil erosion, using less power while producing a better crop. He and his family have also stopped plowing and use "no-till," "strip-till" and precision guided GPS tractors and planting equipment. These modern technologies save fuel, time and equipment, with fewer passes in the field and less soil erosion while holding more moisture in the soil.
Mr. Rogers and his family also use modern technology to improve their beef cattle. Using artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer (ET), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and genomic enhanced Expected Progeny Differences (GE-EPDs), they are producing more high quality beef with fewer inputs. This high quality meets modern consumer demands while needing fewer cattle, less feed and water, and improving the sustainability of the farm and the family. I also learned from Mr. Rogers that these technologies, upon being used and perfected in beef and dairy cows, have become standard practice in human medicine as well. Numerous families have the joy of children due to knowledge gained from the cattle industry.
Traveling to the central Colorado mountains I am taken in with the beauty Tom and Ginny live surrounded by every day. Deer, elk, turkeys and cattle fill lush green pastures at every turn. The same modern technology is used here as well. Tom can monitor his pivot irrigation sprinklers with his cell phone, while attending a bull sale in Montana. Using less water, they are able to leave water in the river for the rest of us to enjoy. They also improve their cattle herd using AI and bulls with GE-EPDs, as well as modern third party verification programs to comply with "all natural," age, source and "hormone free." This adds value and quality to meet consumer demands both foreign and domestic and adds sustainability to the ranch.
Tom and other ranchers in the area also use modern equipment to thin and remove the overgrown pinion and juniper canopy that is choking the life out of our western landscape. After more than 100 years of fire suppression and forest mismanagement, ranchers are working to restore a healthy and more diverse ecosystem. At great cost to the ranch, they are creating the diversity that fire and grazing once did for free, and I want to thank you, on behalf of all Coloradans who get to enjoy the results of your hard work.
Another serious discussion with several citizens has been about predator management and reintroduction of wolves. With a growing population of both people and wildlife, backyard bear and mountain lion conflicts are becoming a daily occurrence. It begs the question, do we need to import more? As your governor, I promise to allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife to take the lead on these issues using science and facts. Because most citizens will never have to live with or ever see these problems, I know the ballot box, politics and human emotion is a poor wildlife management plan. We all see the cost to both taxpayer and wildlife along our miles of highways as wildlife populations increase, and this should concern us all.
In closing here today, again I want to thank the hard working farm and ranch families of Colorado. You have done a great job embracing modern technology while feeding your family and the rest of us too. While doing this you also work to reduce your footprint on our environment, for this we all thank you. As we evolve and embrace the future, time will tell if laboratory grown or highly processed artificial foods will become the norm, but I doubt it. I think what you do using nature's sunlight, soil, grass and water to produce natural and abundant food for us all will be around for generations to come.
Governor Polis, if any of this is useful, please feel free to borrow it for your next presentation. And please remember that any of us in agriculture would be happy to provide more facts, figures and examples if and when you need them. Sincerely, Bill McKee