New Colorado ag commissioner will lean on her experience with water and young producers
January 18, 2019
Kate Greenberg is a new kind of agriculture commissioner for Colorado who said she is looking forward to putting her experience with water and young producers to work.
Greenberg, in her first media interview as commissioner, said she grew up split between Minneapolis and in Minnesota's farm country near Mankato, before moving to Washington where she began farming, working on small-scale, mixed vegetable operations that direct marketed to consumers. Her day job during that time, she said, involved visiting operations of all sizes and types across the West. She said her work has woven between agriculture and conservation, two worlds she said that are one in the same.
Greenberg has spent the past six years based in Durango, Colo., with the National Young Farmers Coalition, building the organization's staff and the membership. She traveled throughout the intermountain West, including Colorado, working with farmers and ranchers to help young producers return to the land.
"I worked finding ways, through policy, through business services, and through network building to get more young people out in ag," she said.
To this end, she said she worked with farmers of all ages on the issue of succession, their options to keep operations in business, and working with the next generation. Her other concentration has been getting elected officials onto farms and ranches to give policymakers a better understanding of the challenges agriculture producers face. She said this is meant to ensure policymakers are making decisions based on practice rather than theory after seeing the boots on the ground. Working to give farmers a seat at the table, she said, is vital for agriculture in Colorado.
"Since coming to Colorado to Durango, I have been serving in the role of advocate for farmers and ranchers, connecting producers with their policymakers and ensuring that we have folks standing up for family ag in Colorado," she said.
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Greenberg said she has worked across the Colorado River Basin and has worked on the Colorado Water Plan and recognizes the gravity of water to agriculture.
"I've worked on the Colorado Water Plan over the years ensuring that farmers and ranchers, particularly beginning farmers and ranchers are attuned to the changes in water policy and have a seat at the table," she said. "In my work and personally, I think water is fundamentally the lifeblood of agriculture in the state. It's critical that agriculture be in the driver's seat as we move forward with water in Colorado."
Greenberg is investing time in meeting stakeholders to make a future in Colorado agriculture for beginning farmers and ranchers. It's a challenge, she said, that she's excited to rise to.
"Building a future where young people have the opportunity to build a life and a livelihood on the land and in agriculture is critical to the state of Colorado," she said.
Meeting farmers and ranchers across the state, namely cattle producers, is one of her goals as she begins her term.
"I want to get out and meet as many people as possible, visit as many operations as I can, and start building those relationships" she said. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.