A panel of Colorado’s foremost food, agriculture and innovation experts led a lively discussion about every angle of the "next generation of local agriculture" during the Next Generation of Ag Symposium, hosted Wednesday by the Colorado Proud program. 

The Next Generation of Ag theme covered every aspect of agriculture that is growing and changing and how it impacts Colorado. Held at Balistreri Vineyards, a Colorado Proud member, the symposium connected panelists with industry peers, sharing conversations about complex agriculture issues, trends and solutions.

Panelists who participated included Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg; Tighe Brown, president, Big Green; Will Johnson, CEO, Flying Diamond Ranch; Don Marvin, chairman and acting CEO, Concentric Ag Corporation; Roberto Meza, founder, Emerald Gardens Microgreens; Kris Staaf, senior director of public affairs, Safeway; and Dr. Amanda Weaver, professor, University of Colorado, Denver.

“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, they 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 dialogue about the next generation.”