Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: Corn growers favor federal GMO-labeling push; Colo. farmers ask for 1,300 hemp acres |

Rocky Mountain Ag Notebook: Corn growers favor federal GMO-labeling push; Colo. farmers ask for 1,300 hemp acres

Feds Spend $236M to Help Landowners Protect Grouse

The federal government paid $236 million to landowners in 11 states to preserve sage grouse habitat amid a debate over whether the bird should be listed as an endangered species — potentially hindering energy development and ranching.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that the money was paid for conservation efforts on nearly 6,000 square miles, mostly in the West, over a four-year period.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the numbers at the request of the Western Governors’ Association. That group argues the figures show that state and private efforts are more effective at preserving sage grouse than an endangered species designation would be.

The governors association said participation in the program fell off steeply in California and Nevada after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed listing a segment of the sage grouse population as endangered.

— The Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune

Colorado Corn in Favor of Federal GMO-Labeling Push

The Colorado Corn Growers Association, based in Greeley, is urging Colorado’s federal congressional delegation to support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, HR 4432.

Recently, Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced the act, and Colorado Corn is hoping the legislation will continue to have support from both sides of the aisle as it works through.

In a letter, Colorado Corn Executive Director Mark Sponsler stressed that “this legislation will create standards for foods that do not contain genetically modified ingredients to ensure a transparent and consistent system for all states.”

Sponsler added that it would eliminate confusion, “removing the uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirm the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.

— Colorado Corn Growers Association

Colorado State Fair Improvements Bill Off to Governor

A bill to spend $300,000 on renovating facilities at the Colorado State Fair is on its way to Gov. Bill Hickenlooper’s desk for final approval.

HB 1300 bill cleared the Senate Wednesday by a vote of 28-7.

In April, the bill passed the House by a vote of 47-17.

HB 1300, sponsored by Reps. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, transfers the money from the general fund to the State Fair Authority Cash Fund to renovate and improve a pair of dilapidated dormitories at the State Fairgrounds that are used throughout the year by state 4-H clubs and the Colorado branch of the Future Farmers of America. The money also will be used to install new air fans in the Livestock Pavilion and the Palace of Agriculture, add a new sound system for the Livestock Pavilion and purchase new portable goat pens.

— The Pueblo, Colo., Chieftain

Colo. Hemp Farmers Ask for 1,300 Acres This Year

Hemp could be growing on more than 1,000 acres of Colorado farmland later this year — among the first legal grows since the 1950s.

The state registration period to grow hemp — legalized along with recreational marijuana through Amendment 64 — closed Thursday.

Farmers applied to grow hemp on 1,273 acres. Not all applications have been approved, and a few more could trickle in by mail if they were postmarked by Thursday.

Industrial hemp, a cannabis plant related to marijuana but lacking the THC chemical that makes marijuana users high, is harvested in other countries for its versatile use in food products, textiles and building materials.

Farmers expect to be planting the seed in Colorado within the next month.

Most say they found ways to purchase seed, typically bringing it into the country illegally since it is not federally legal, but other issues still haven’t been worked out.

— The Denver Post

Dean Foods Closing West Slope Milk Plant

Dean Foods says it’s closing its Meadow Gold milk-processing plant in Delta, Colo., after 63 years of being in operation, citing a decision by grocery store chain City Market to open its own dairy.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Thursday the closure means the loss of about 38 jobs.

Ten positions from the Delta plant will be transferred to a distribution operation in Grand Junction 40 miles northwest. It wasn’t immediately clear if those jobs were among the 38 being cut in Delta.

Dean Foods said it’s closing the dairy because City Market is opening its own processing plant. Kroger Co., which owns City Market, said the plant will be in Denver and will help keep prices competitive.

The Delta plant has been operating since 1951.

Production is expected to be phased out within three months.

— Staff reports

Founding Member of Weld 4-H Foundation Steps Down After 60 Years

When Bill Frank helped form the Weld County 4-H Foundation 60 years ago, he forged a path for thousands of young people in the area to learn and practice the skills and values associated with agriculture.

He also forged a path for his family, one that his children and grandchildren have followed, and one that his 1-year-old great-granddaughter, Mesa, will likely follow as well.

Frank attended his last meeting as a board member on Thursday evening, stepping down after serving on the board for 60 consecutive years. As his granddaughter, Tami Arnold, prepares to take his spot on the board, Frank said he’s enjoyed his decades as a leader in the organization, not because of what he has done, but because of the people with whom he has worked.

Weld County commissioners honored Frank with a proclamation at Thursday’s banquet. Commissioner Mike Freeman read the proclamation, thanking Frank for his years of service to the community and to an estimated 100,000 4-H members.

— Staff reports

High Plains Food Cooperative Wins $27,500 Rural Business Enterprise Grant

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet recently announced that the High Plains Food Cooperative has won a $27,500 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to help the farmers and ranchers of the cooperative expand to meet growing customer demands.

The High Plains Food Cooperative is a grassroots network of Colorado and Western Kansas independent producers and consumers.

HPFC posts and markets the producers’ goods, receives consumer orders, delivers products to convenient drop-off points, and collects payments on behalf of farmers and ranchers.

— Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

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