Salazar bids farewell to farmers and ranchers
Colorado’s Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar addressed the ag community Nov. 22 at the Colorado Farm Bureau annual meeting banquet in Denver, in one of his final public speeches before leaving office. Salazar will retire in January 2015, concluding four years of service under Gov. John Hickenlooper and 12 years in public office.
“The last four years in Colorado have been the highlight of my public service career because I’ve been able to work with many of you in a much closer way. Farmers and ranchers are not Republican or Democrat. Farmers and ranchers are the salt of the earth,” he told the crowd.
“I want to thank each and every one of you who have given me the opportunity to serve Colorado and let me fight for what I believe is the most honorable profession, which is being a farmer or rancher. Truly, you deserve the greatest thanks.”
Salazar reminisced about his early days as a legislator in Denver, feeling like a “homesick farm boys that wanted to go back to the farm.” He then turned to politics and Proposition 105, the state ballot item that would have implemented labeling for genetically modified foods.
“Two percent of us live on farms and ranches and we feed 100 percent of the public here in the United States and around the world. You saw what happened with Proposition 105. Just a handful of people want to take our rights away from being farmers because they don’t even care about the people who can hardly afford groceries,” he said.
“Those are the challenges we are going to be facing as we become fewer and fewer. I see around this room, most of us are gray and losing our hair. The average age of farmers tends be closer to 60. I’m 62 years old now and luckily have a son that wants to continue the operation.”
Salazar also rejected the “Save the Beagles” campaign, which has directed billboards at the commissioner to shut down research on beagles at CARE Research in Fort Collins.
“I love puppies too but my father died of Alzheimer’s disease and some of my aunts and uncles have suffered from diabetes. I can assure you that if testing will save a human life, I’ll support it,” he said.
He added that he has no jurisdiction over the facility and efforts would be better directed at the United States Department of Agriculture.
Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft thanked Salazar for his service to agriculture and personally thanked him for his recent work campaigning against Proposition 105. ❖
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