2011 Colorado Farm Show seen as best in history | TheFencePost.com

2011 Colorado Farm Show seen as best in history

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

JOSHUA POLSON / gtphoto@greeleytribune.comColorado Farm Show workers Lawrence Layton, left, and Brian Larson, right, delicately direct a metal shack under direction of Steve Larson, center, at the show's cleanup Thursday afternoon in Greeley. The shack housed Larson's booth, Larson Metal.

Ron Hoffman said he’s been coming to the Colorado Farm Show for at least 13 years.

“It’s been good for us. We’ve never really had a bad farm show, but this one was really good,” Hoffman said Thursday.

Hoffman and his wife, Carol, own Frontier Glove Co. of Windsor, a business they started about 17 years ago. He recently retired from the city of Fort Collins and is now spending full time on his business.

That includes being a vendor at the farm show each year.

“If you want to sell work gloves, you go where the working folks are at,” Hoffman said.

He was among many who said this year’s show – which ended Thursday afternoon – was one of the better in recent history, with Tuesday’s crowd probably being the best for a first-day crowd.

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Artie Geisick, this year’s farm show general chairman, agreed with the assessment.

“It was a great show. It ran pretty smooth, and I didn’t have any complaints, which is really unusual, but I didn’t get one,” he said.

Farm show officials stopped trying to estimate crowds a few years ago, because there was no good way to validate that since all of the programs are free of charge. But the common figure has been 30,000 a year and longtime observers said that figure was probably easily reached if not exceeded this year.

He said Tuesday’s crowd “was the biggest I’ve ever seen,” and noted that even by mid-afternoon Thursday, people were still walking through the displays.

“Usually, this place starts to get pretty empty by noon or so on a Thursday, but not this year. Here it is almost 3, and there are still a lot of people here,” Geisick said.

A session on the future and challenges of biotechnology crops in Colorado attracted a good crowd Thursday afternoon. Lisa Drake, the lead state and local government affairs specialist with Monsanto in Englewood, talked about Roundup Ready alfalfa and sugar beet seed that the company has worked for the past 25 years developing. Both crops were approved for planting in 2005, but then several lawsuits by environmental groups sought to prevent that approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

However, just prior to Drake’s talk, she got word that Roundup Ready alfalfa had just been deregulated by the USDA, which means that seed can once more be ready. She expressed optimism that the same kind of ruling may come soon for sugar beet seed.

The advantage of using so-called genetically modified crops is that farmers can see a reduction in the inputs they need to grow the crop, a better yield and most importantly, better returns. At the same time the Roundup Ready alfalfa was approved, cotton and maize seed were also approved, Drake said.

“A lot of our ideas surrounding Roundup Ready came from farmers,” she said. The majority of sugar beets planted in the U.S. last year were Roundup Ready. The use of those seeds, Drake said, means farmers have much better control over weeds in their fields, resulting in higher yields. That, she said, leads to sustaining agriculture, which in turn leads to producing the food the world will need in the future.

Artie Elmquist, who farms in southwest Weld County, couldn’t agree more.

“We need to take control of the definition of sustainable agriculture. Just too much is put into the context of organic agriculture. We all have been hearing that we are going to have to produce as much food in the next 50 years as we have in the history of the world. Organic agriculture cannot reach that goal,” Elmquist said.