FFA convention restores faith in the future of farming
June 7, 2009
It’s good to have one’s faith restored on occasions.
That happened last week when more than 1,500 FFA members from around the state gathered in Greeley for the organization’s 81st state convention. Island Grove Regional Park was awash with the familiar blue and gold corduroy jackets.
These young men and women are our country’s future, not only in agriculture, but also in many other fields. That became evident at the opening night ceremonies when the 10-member state officer team talked about the passions and visions of their futures.
Those passions and visions ranged from ranching and farming to coaching and teaching to music to undersea exploration. The entire three-day convention was planned by that officer team, along with the executive committee and, of course, the state FFA adviser, Kenton Ochsner of Kersey.
Volunteers from the board of the Colorado FFA Foundation and others helped pull the whole thing off, including the many agri-businesses and farm organizations that help out financially.
The Greeley Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Colorado Farm Show also had a presence at the convention and assisted in bringing the event to Greeley, financially. It turned out to be about a $500,000 economic impact to the city.
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The same, however, could not be said for Weld County, which refused to back off any fees charged for renting facilities at Island Grove.
That, as it turns out, came as the result of the development of the Island Grove Park Authority Board about three years ago as part of the capital plan for the park.
No individual or group gets free use of the Event Center any longer, and fees for other facilities have been structured for different occasions. Only the Stampede, Weld County Fair and Weld 4-H groups get free use of the Exhibition and 4-H Buildings, while other nonprofit groups get reduced fees for the use of those buildings.
The decision to back off the waiving of fees on facilities at Island Grove came about because of rising utility costs for use of the facilities, county officials said.
» Rainy weather boon for farmers
While the focus was on FFA members at the convention, the weather got a lot of discussion among the parents and others at the event.
This spring’s rain has been a godsend, particularly to the state’s dryland, winter wheat farmers, who are claiming this year’s crop is perhaps the best in recent years, if not ever. That’s been the result of rain that has brought upward of 5 inches of moisture or more in some of the state’s wheat producing areas.
Now, however, those same farmers are holding their collective breaths, hoping no hail – the dreaded “white harvester” – stays away. Wheat harvest is still a good four to six weeks away, if not longer in some areas of the state. In some areas, however, the wheat is so heavy it’s starting to lay over in fields, which is way too early for that to start to happen.
One dryland farmer, from northeast Weld, who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, might have put it best when talking about this spring’s moisture.
“This rain has been better than sex,” he said.
Bill Jackson has covered agriculture in northern Colorado for more than 30 years. His column runs every other Sunday in the Greeley Tribune, and is reprinted with permission on the Fence Post Web site. If you have ideas for this column, call him at (970) 392-4442.