Keenesburg farmer to be honored for advocacy, work for Colorado Ag |

Keenesburg farmer to be honored for advocacy, work for Colorado Ag

The Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture award

Marc Arnusch will receive the Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture award Feb. 22 at the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame Banquet. The banquet will be held in conjunction with the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture in Denver.

The Hall of Fame

Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame 2017 inductees

» Bill Webster, Greeley (Check out Wednesday’s Tribune for more about Webster)

» Dale Mccall, Longmont

» Bill Markham, Berthoud

» Charlie Bartlett (posthumous), Merino

» Marc Arnusch, Keenesburg: Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture

When Marc Arnusch was a kid, he’d watch his father and grandfather grow sugar beets, the crop that brought them to America, and he knew he wanted to carry on their legacy.

Then the agriculture economy took a nosedive in the ’80s and ’90s, right around the time Arnusch was going to college and ready to come back to the family farm. Things were so bad, even his father, Hans, didn’t want his son to live the uncertain life of a farmer.

But Arnusch came back, and in the years since, he has not only worked to keep his operation profitable despite the ups and downs in ag, he’s helped others run a profitable operation as well.

Because of his efforts to sustain and promote the state’s ag industries, Arnusch was named the 2017 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture by the Colorado FFA Foundation in conjunction with the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame announcements.

“Sometimes, ag does lose. But I know I fought the right fight. It’s an industry worth fighting for.— Marc Arnusch, named the 2017 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture

“I was absolutely stunned to hear that,” Arnusch said. “We don’t look at (our work) as special. We look at it as ordinary.”

He believes it’s ordinary to wake up at 6 a.m. in the offseason — earlier in the summer — to get started working on his 2,600-acre farm in Keenesburg, Colo. It’s ordinary for him to make trips to the Colorado state or U.S. Capitol to talk with lawmakers about the issues facing ag. It’s ordinary for him to chat with consumers in the produce aisle at the grocery store about where their food comes from and about the technology behind it. It was even ordinary for Arnusch to step in front of a camera to film a TV advertisement about the ways the ag and oil and gas worlds can work together.

That’s because for Arnusch, advocacy is just another part of farming.

“It’s just another hat you have to wear. Ag is changing, and we have to be with and drive that change,” he said. “This is the dream of a lifetime to be in the production of ag.”

Don Shawcroft, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said throughout the nomination process for the Rising Star award, Arnusch stayed modest about his accomplishments, despite the praise others around him offered. When Arnusch found out he’d been nominated, he had to agree to the recommendation, but Shawcroft said he was hesitant because he felt like he wasn’t in the same league as past recipients.

“I don’t feel like he’s one who tries to tout what he knows to the rest of the world,” Shawcroft said. “This man is very capable of what he’s doing. He works hard at being capable of what he does, and yet he does not feel like he’s better than other people who are striving to do similar things.”

Arnusch serves on the Colorado Farm Bureau state board of directors and has previously been the president of both the Weld and Morgan County Farm bureaus. He’s also on the Colorado Groundwater Commission, and said the preservation of water rights is one of the areas he is most active.

“It’s not always the most popular place to be,” he said with a laugh. “But water touches everything in Colorado.”

In the past, he has served on the Aims Agriculture Advisory Committee, the Valley Bank and Trust Agriculture Committee and the Weld County Comprehensive Plan Committee.

He also used to coach his son’s basketball team and said helping those boys relate the lessons they learned in sports to life has been some of the most rewarding work in his life.

Arnusch also said there’s nothing quite like seeing a piece of legislation you helped work on or helped influence become law. The process of getting there is usually difficult — divisive, even, he said. Not only does Arnusch face a rural-urban divide, but he faces a split in ideologies in rural communities. With a grin, he brought up an old saying that farmers can’t even agree on the day of the week.

Even when it feels like he’s being pulled off his farm more and more, seeing his hard work pay off even once in a while is worth it.

“Sometimes, ag does lose,” he said. “But I know I fought the right fight. It’s an industry worth fighting for.”❖

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