Weekly ag briefs: Gov. Polis announces Livestock Proud Day, open positions filled and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Sun shines on a snowy field.

Governor declares Livestock Proud Day March 22

Colorado Livestock Association was joined by Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Egg Producers, Colorado Pork Producers Council, Colorado Wool Growers Association and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in requesting that Colorado Governor Jared Polis declare March 22 Colorado Livestock Proud Day. The groups were notified last Friday that the Governor had agreed to sign the declaration. The declaration specifically highlights the essential nutrients in beef and emphasizes that livestock convert solar energy into food on marginal lands. The proclamation also states, “Agriculture serves as our state’s economic backbone, generating more than $40 billion in economic activity annually and supporting more than 170,000 jobs. Livestock production contributes over $4.6 billion to Colorado’s economy.”

New Colorado Proud director named

Danielle Trotta has been selected to lead the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Colorado Proud program. In her new role, Trotta will work to promote food and agricultural products grown, raised or made in Colorado, and expand the program’s membership base that include growers, processors, schools, restaurants and retailers statewide. Trotta has served as a business development specialist at the department since 2018. Prior to that, she co-managed a Red Angus cattle operation in eastern Colorado and worked as a livestock audit specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in agriculture with a focus on integrated resource management from Colorado State University.

New position hired at state fair

JT Gillmore has been named to fill the Colorado State Fair’s newly created position of director of agriculture and competitive exhibits, and will oversee all competitions and agriculture education programs year-round at the fairgrounds, as well as during the State Fair. Gillmore was raised in the rural community of Westcliffe, Colorado, on a small cow/calf operation where he was deeply involved in 4-H, FFA, and the Custer County Fair. While attending Colorado State University, he was a member of the university’s livestock judging team, and continues to judge sheep and hogs at the local, state and national level.

Wolf advisory board members sought

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is accepting applications for a new Wolf Stakeholder Advisory Group. The deadline to apply is March 31. In the last election, Colorado citizens voted Proposition 114 into statute, which directs the Commission to develop a plan to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado by December 31, 2023. The new advisory group will support the development of the plan, while representing a broad range of interests involved in resource management and conservation issues. Applications are available at CPW.state.co.us or emails can be sent to wolfcomments@state.co.us.

Global beef conference announced

Registration is now open for the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef to be held April 14. The worldwide virtual platform will be used to launch goals for the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which will be implemented over the next ten years. The development and adoption of these goals is intended to demonstrate the beef value chain’s commitment and progress in achieving more sustainable practices. The upcoming global conference will offer a format that allows participants to build their own itinerary from live and on-demand content.

Peterson joins Combest Sell advocacy firm

Former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, of Minnesota, is bringing his 30-plus years of leadership in food and agriculture policy to the team at Combest, Sell & Associates, which advocates on rural policy issues. Tom Sell and the Combest Sell firm represent the interests of groups such as the Southwest Council of Agribusiness, which includes Colorado Corn and other regional commodity groups as members. The firm said Peterson will not lobby in the near term, but will “engage with current and future Combest Sell clients who seek to promote and protect policies that bolster U.S. agriculture and rural America.”

Infection rates in meat plants low

The latest independent data shows COVID-19 infection rates among meat and poultry workers are more than five times lower than the general U.S. population, and 95 percent lower than they were in May of last year, according to the Food and Environment Reporting Network. Their data shows the meat and poultry sector had an average of just 4.81 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in February, compared with 26.15 in the general U.S. population.

Foreign market development funding urged

American farmers and rural businesses need continued investment in the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development programs to make up for lost export opportunities in the pandemic and to fight foreign competition, according to the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports. In a letter to House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee leaders, 130 agricultural organizations say these two cost-share export market development programs, funded in the 2018 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, provide a rate of return that far exceeds their public expense. The organizations expressed concern about “intense foreign export competition” as markets worldwide reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strong ag input sales expected this spring

It’s setting up to be a very strong agronomy season for crop input distributors, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. Since last August, prices have increased more than 60 percent for corn and soybeans and nearly 20 percent for wheat, in response to tight ending stocks and continued strong demand from both export markets and domestic processors. The cyclical turn in grain prices has been combined with robust government support payments. While some producers missed out on the early gains in pricing by selling their corn and soybean crops in late September, U.S. net farm income overall grew by $38 billion in 2020, the report said. Given higher acreage forecasts, farmers are expected to purchase more fertilizer products, specifically the principal macronutrients (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous) during the spring planting season. USDA expects slightly more than 10 million additional planted acres this year, due primarily to prevented plant acres coming back into circulation, the report concludes.