Governor’s ag forum provided a look at future of industry
March 24, 2011
The annual Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture is a good time to consider the future of our industry – and the role each of us plays in it.
Colorado State University works each year with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to organize and host the forum. I was pleased to help plan this year’s event, which drew more than 300 producers, industry experts and statewide agricultural leaders to Denver last month.
Guest speakers presented thought-provoking talks and data to illuminate the state of Colorado agriculture.
For instance, the market value of Colorado crop and livestock sales totals more than $6 billion annually, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census of agriculture. And Colorado ag sales are continually rising – by an impressive 35 percent in the five years covered in the last census.
These numbers reflect the strength and vitality of Colorado’s agricultural industry, as well as its importance to the statewide economy.
Here’s another set of numbers to consider: Colorado’s population now tops 5 million people, according to new census data. Our statewide population grew by nearly
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17 percent in the past decade, almost double the nationwide growth rate.
Even so, many of our rural communities lost population from 2000 to 2010, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs reports. Depopulation occurred primarily in parts of the Eastern Plains and in southern parts of the state, including the San Luis Valley.
This is a call to action.
We must seek new ways to continue advancing the state’s thriving agricultural industry while also discovering new ways to revitalize our rural communities.
Agriculture must be central to problem-solving because the industry is vital to the success of Colorado’s rural communities, and to the success of our state and nation.
Colorado State University – and especially those of us in CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences – embraces a unique responsibility in these efforts. CSU was founded in 1870 as the state’s land-grant university, with a mission directly linked to maintaining and improving the health and competitiveness of Colorado’s agricultural industry.
The College of Agricultural Sciences also is a signature college for Colorado. We are the only agricultural college in the state with a full slate of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as extension, outreach and research activities that serve Colorado.
Our faculty and students are concentrating in on the interconnected agricultural systems that form the foundation of economic success in rural communities, statewide and even globally. Our focus areas include land management, water management, food production, and food safety and quality.
Our college is creating new knowledge essential to agriculture’s success and is preparing students to meet the demands of a complex, global industry.
Some evidence of this work:
The College of Agricultural Sciences has annual research expenditures totaling more than $13 million, a barometer of work toward new discoveries. This scientific effort contributes to CSU’s status as the most productive research university in Colorado, on a per-faculty-member basis. In addition, our college annually graduates about 350 students with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
We are working to address urgent issues related to agricultural systems and the global food supply, as well as the need for Colorado to remain innovative and competitive.
The College of Agricultural Sciences values our partnerships throughout the state as together we seek solutions and new advances to benefit rural communities and the Colorado agricultural industry as a whole.
Craig Beyrouty is dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University. He may be reached at Craig.Beyrouty@colostate.edu or (970) 491-6274.