Raising rural voices: #Showing up on commissions and boards
At the Greeley stop of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Rally for Rural Colorado, producers gathered to hear updates from CCA Executive Vice President Terry Fankhauser and Todd Inglee, executive director of the Colorado Beef Council. It was also where producers were able to ask some of the hard questions.
Fankhauser said he can’t emphasize enough the importance of rural representation on boards and commissions, especially in light of the Gov. Jared Polis’ most recent appointment of vegan animal rights activist Ellen Kessler to the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine.
Gov. Polis defended his appointment of Kessler during a stop in Sterling on Sept. 11. He told Jeff Rice with the Sterling Journal Advocate that he supports 4-H but “we value diversity in Colorado, we just want folks who, in the case of veterinary medicine, are going to uphold the principles of animal health and veterinary medicine.”
One committee that he said will be particularly vital is the Reapportion and Redistricting Committee, which will be responsible for the redistricting of congressional and legislative boundaries through the formation of two separate commissions.
To apply for consideration, an online application, letters of recommendation, and resume can be submitted online. Fankhauser said applicants considered are typically interviewed with the expectation that appointees will make decisions based on the information provided to them, their own experience, and the merits of the two.
Upcoming openings on boards and commissions that may be of particular interest to those in agriculture and rural Colorado include: Property Tax Administration, Advisory Committee (Sept. 2020); Workforce Development Council (Sept. 2020); State Veterinary Education Loan Repayment Council (Oct. 2020); Water Resources and Power Development Authority (Oct. 2020); Colorado State Fair Authority Board of Commissioners (Nov. 2020); Board of Governors of Colorado State University System (Dec. 2020); Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp Committee (Dec. 2020); Air Quality Control Commission (Jan. 2021); Water Conservation Board (Feb. 2021); Agriculture Commission (March 2021); and an opening due to a resignation on the Ground Water Commission.
With an upcoming appointment to the Agriculture Commission, another point discussed at the rally was increasing engagement between Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg and the agriculture producers in the state. Fankhauser said this governor’s administration is less accessible than others he has worked with in the past.
“There is a need for open dialogue and being a conduit to assist through knowledge and communication,” Fankhauser said. “I look for a commissioner of ag to do that.”
Previous commissioners, he said, have brought in industry experts and have relied on them for their input but that hasn’t happened.
“Members are frustrated, and they want and need that access,” he said. “This isn’t drawing a line in the sand, this is stepping across and saying, ‘come on over.’ You pay the (Colorado Department of Ag’s) bills, they work for you and it’s by design that’s the case. We need to move forward.”
At a stop in Fort Morgan at Morgan Community College last week, The Fence Post asked Polis when the CDA might receive federal CARES Act funds that might be applied to assist small and mid-sized meat processors. Polis said he is working with the CDA to expand processing capacity in the state after hearing from ranchers who were unable to harvest cattle due to a processing glut due to COVID closures. A former co-sponsor of the PRIME Act when in Congress, Polis said he’s looking for ways processors can enjoy flexibility to benefit producers and consumers alike.
Polis said he is strongly supportive of direct to consumer marketing of local foods though he understands the interstate commerce and regulatory issues that plague the concept. He said he looks forward to collaborating with ranchers and recognizes how important the opportunity to reach consumers is.
During his visit to Fort Morgan, he toured the newly opened MCC Precision Agriculture facility and heard from multiple staff and students, including Quinton Draegert. Draegert explained the use of drones in agriculture and how it is applicable to his job for a local agronomy company. ❖
— Gabel is the assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 768-0024.
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The Agriculture Department has established a new data report, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement Seasonal Perishable Products Weekly Update, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced on Jan. 11.