Water saturated the agenda for Colorado farmers, policy leaders, and experts at today’s Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture. The annual conference, now in its 24th year, centered around the theme of “Water: Colorado’s Treasure.”
“When it comes to agriculture, water is the key that opens every lock,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. "All of our challenges, all of our greatest successes, result from how we address water."
Gov. Hickenlooper emphasized the value of agriculture to Colorado’s economy in his remarks to the audience, including a discussion of the growing market for Colorado-grown and -made products.
John Stulp, Special Policy Advisor to the Governor for Water, also stressed the economic importance of water to Colorado and to Gov. Hickenlooper, in particular.
“Governor Hickenlooper has always cared about water – as a geologist, as a brew pub owner, as mayor of Denver, and now as Governor – he’s always seen how important water is to Colorado’s economy across all sectors, including agriculture,” Stulp said.
Colorado’s new Commissioner of Agriculture, Don Brown, also addressed the audience and spoke to the essential nature of water in farming.
"Water is integral to the growing of crops," Commissioner Brown said. "It's the most precious element we have in the production of food and fiber."
Recognizing water’s crucial role in agriculture and the state economy as a whole, panelists examined the challenges and opportunities around Colorado’s water during a roundtable discussion.
“In Colorado, most of the water is diverted for agriculture, so we have to use it wisely,” said Reagan Waskom, Director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “We need to keep pushing forward in terms of technology and innovative uses of that water.”
Robert Sakata, owner of Sakata Farms in Brighton, Colo., highlighted the need to help consumers understand the connections between food, farmers, and water.
“People often take for granted the food on their grocery store shelves – they don’t always realize what it takes to grow that food and the role water plays,” Sakata said. “Water is the lifeblood of irrigated agriculture, and conversations like the ones we’re having today are essential.”
The 2015 Governor’s Forum was hosted by the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP), the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and Colorado State University.
CALP is a leadership-training program that exposes emerging leaders in Colorado agriculture to the diverse aspects of the state’s farm economy. The program was reinstated in 2012 under the leadership of former Commissioner John Salazar and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg after several years of inactivity.
For further information, please visit governorsagforum.com or contact Angie Cue at firstname.lastname@example.org.