Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: CSU wins $500,000 ag grant; Gardner urging EPA to protect state water rights
May 19, 2014
Snowpack and Reservoir Levels Across Colorado
(Figures represent percentage of historic average on May 1)
Basin Snowpack Reservoir Storage
South Platte 133 110
Colorado 122 94
Gunnison 97 107
North Platte 135 NA
Yampa/White 121 106
Arkansas 99 59
Rio Grande 50 67
San Miguel (others in SW Colo.) 68 85
Statewide 107 93
Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Colorado State University Wins $500,000 Grant
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced that Colorado State University (CSU) has won a $499,627 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program. AFRI grants support projects that promote economically, socially, and environmentally-sustainable rural communities.
CSU won a grant in the AFRI’s Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Innovation program and will use the grant to fund a project entitled Place Based Innovation: An Integrated Look at Agritourism in the Western U.S. The project will study the intersection of agriculture and tourism in the West with a particular focus on three areas: food and beverage tourism (vineyards, breweries, farmers markets), tourism created by livestock events, and natural resource-based tourism activities, such as hunting, fishing, and photography. The project will also look at the behavior of agritourism travelers in the West to potentially find opportunities for growth and develop curriculum for courses on agritourism.
— Office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Gardner Sends Letter Urging EPA to Protect State Water Rights
This week, Congressman Cory Gardner joined 45 Members of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to put a stop to their contentious “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule proposal that will radically expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.
“During an exchange I had with Administrator McCarthy at an Energy & Commerce Committee hearing, she testified that she was not familiar with Colorado water law as compared with other states’ water laws,” said Gardner. “It is appalling that the EPA is pushing out rules to control Colorado’s water without taking into account previous state actions. According to EPA’s own study, 68 percent of the streams in Colorado are intermittent, which means that this proposal will have a major impact on all Coloradans. The EPA needs to go back to the drawing board, adequately consult the states and consider all action that could harm a state’s ability to manage their own waters.”
— Office of U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Boulder County farm owners object to proposed pot greenhouses nearby
The owners of two Boulder County farms are objecting to a proposal to build a large marijuana greenhouse operation near their properties, saying it’s not a good fit for their family-friendly neighborhood.
The proposed operation at 3105 75th St. would comprise four 4,000-square-foot greenhouses and one 5,040-square-foot warehouse on a 7.9-acre parcel of land near the corner of Valmont Road and North 75th Street, according to the application.
“How do you explain on a school tour, ‘That is where marijuana is grown’?” said Paul Cure, owner of Cure Organic Farm, which, at 7416 Valmont Road, is next to the site.
The planned pot greenhouse is connected to Laszlo Bagi, whose marijuana operation in northern Boulder County was raided by federal agents in November. Bagi has not been charged in that investigation.
The application was submitted by Pantera Properties LLC and lists Bagi’s contact information. Colorado Secretary of State records show Wendy Bagi is the agent for Pantera Properties.
When contacted by phone Thursday, Bagi told the Camera he is an investor in the property but will not be involved in the marijuana operation at the site. He declined to comment further.
The owner of the property, listed as William Munn, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
— Boulder Daily Camera
Survey Reveals Consumer Confusion About Antibiotic Resistance
A new survey reveals that consumers are confused about the causes of antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.
The survey was conducted online in March 2014 among over 2,100 U.S. adults ages 18 and older by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute.
When asked, “According to the CDC, which of the following is the greatest contributing factor to human antibiotic resistance,” only four in ten Americans (41 percent) correctly answered “health professionals over-prescribing to people.”
Eighteen percent thought use of antibiotics in livestock production was the number one contributing factor according to the CDC. Seven percent thought the CDC found antimicrobial hand sanitizers to be the biggest factor; five percent thought the answer was drinking water and 28 percent said they were unsure.
— American Meat Institute
NFU Statement on National Climate Assessment
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on the Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment:
“The National Climate Assessment only confirms what family farmers and ranchers have been experiencing: global climate change is increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, which then directly impact agricultural risk, farmers’ bottom lines and the entire rural economy.
“The administration’s report is clear. Congress must take legislative action to mitigate climate change in order to protect farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.
“I also encourage the administration to heed its own advice by rejecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s misguided proposal to reduce the biofuel production targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is currently our country’s most important strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The EPA’s proposal will not only adversely impact commodity prices and rural employment, but will also move our country further from achieving our climate change mitigation goals.”
— National Farmers Union
Young Cattle Charge Higher
Cattle prices have been rising rapidly as the U.S. supply remains constrained. The beef industry is still struggling through a multi-year drought in Western states that has destroyed pastureland, making it difficult to grow the national herd.
The relative shortage of animals is causing many ranchers to hold onto animals for the purpose of breeding, which further limits the market-ready cattle in the near term.
Most dramatically, the market for young cattle, known as “feeder cattle” in the industry, has been especially strong, with prices up 40 percent over the last year. Feeder cattle are typically year-old steers or heifers that are ready to be moved into a feedlot, where they are fattened on corn until they roughly double in weight.
The market for May feeder cattle reached an all-time record high again on Friday, trading over $1.84 per pound. Despite the shockingly high prices, there is still strong demand for feeders, since corn prices are still relatively cheap and the market for market-ready, or “fat” cattle, is exceptionally high.
This price differential allows feedlot operators to continue to profitably buy feeder cattle, feed them corn and then sell the fattened animals a few months later.
— Walt and Alex Breitinger, commodity futures brokers with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan.
USDA to make historic investment for local food enterprises
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that USDA is making a historic $78 million investment in local and regional food systems, including food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services, and other local food business enterprises.
“The 2014 Farm Bill has given USDA new tools, resources and authority to support the rural economy,” Vilsack said. “Consumer demand for locally-produced food is strong and growing, and farmers and ranchers are positioning their businesses to meet that demand. As this sector continues to mature, we see aggregation, processing, and distribution enterprises across the local food supply chain growing rapidly. These historic USDA investments in support of local food give farmers and ranchers more market opportunities, provide consumers with more choices, and create jobs in both rural and urban communities.”
Vilsack said that $48 million in loan guarantees for local food projects is now available through USDA’s Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. Another $30 million is available through competitive grants through the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program.
— U.S. Department of Agriculture