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Guest Column: Few people truly understand ag's contribution

As tufts of green begin to peek through the brown, dry land, spring's warm weather brings hope of calves running through the fields and fresh fruits and vegetables growing abundant. Colorado farmers and ranchers are often overlooked for the vital role they play in all of our lives and spring time is the perfect time to honor them for their contribution to our way of life.

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. In the 1960s, each American farmer and rancher fed approximately 25 people. Today, thanks to technology and greater efficiency, that number has soared to more than 150 people.

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Buying local products benefits local farmers, ranchers and processors, as well as the state economy. In addition, 86 percent of Coloradans feel that the presence of ranches, farms and agriculture is important to the quality of life in Colorado.

Why buy local? The reasons are simple:

• Instead of traveling an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate, local produce is harvested and delivered immediately. Spending less time in transport means fresh products that retain more of their nutritional value.

• Buying local maintains jobs, sustains family farms and ranches, and contributes to the state economy.

• Buying local is better for the environment because it helps keep farms and ranches profitable, thereby maintaining open space and wildlife habitat.

• Buying local lets you experience seasonal and regional favorites such as Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford melons and Olathe sweet corn!

• Local farmers and ranchers are right here in your backyard! They are readily available to answer questions about their fresh products.

I encourage Colorado shoppers to consider these facts as they purchase items for their dinner table.

Letter to the Editor: Frack vs. food

The continued success of agriculture in the Western states cannot be overstated. It helps rural communities grow, and plays a central role for our farmers to bring food to the table.

However, Western agriculture is being threatened when water is diverted away for hydraulic fracturing, instead of being used for essential irrigation for successful farming.

Big oil is threatening one of our most scarce resources to continue our dependence on fossil fuels and line their pockets, at the expense of the family farmer. Right now, oil and gas companies in northern Colorado are pumping thousands of gallons per minute of groundwater only to be pumped deep underground and never used again.

Food prices are on the rise and big oil is to blame. They are taking water from our fields and wasting it thousands of feet underground to extract oil and natural gas.

They are taking what farmers need most — water.

Farming water is used to irrigate crops, and that water is often returned, flowing back into river systems, supporting wildlife and various ecosystems, unlike water used for fracking, which is mixed with chemicals and has the potential to contaminate groundwater.

It seems that the priorities are severely misplaced when farmers are restricted from growing and putting food on the table. Big oil is coming into our communities and using our resources to increase profits and maintain their stranglehold on the liquid fuels market, yet there's not any new refineries being built and gas demand isn't picking up.

These companies are using our water resources to extract oil and gas only to ship it out of our country. It isn't doing the American consumer any good.

Oil and gas companies want to buy and waste our water and drill in our backyards, while keeping the consumer hostage with record high prices at the gas pump.

This is happening now in our backyards throughout Colorado while towns are putting citizens on water restrictions and farmers are being limited from pumping water from wells.

Is extracting oil more important than feeding people?