Colorado Proud statewide program promoting agriculture awareness
Representatives of Colorado Proud, a program of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, have recently popped by Moffat and Routt County locales as part of its 20th anniversary celebration and campaign.
Colorado Proud has stopped at Moffat County and at Main Street Steamboat Farmers’ Market in Steamboat Spring on the “The Next Generation of Ag” tour — a month-long, statewide tour through Colorado communities.
“The goal is to connect with local residents and share conversations around agriculture, including innovation, technology and relationships with consumers, farmers, ranchers and retailers,” according to a news release from the program.
The tour launched in Denver on Aug. 1, and continues along Colorado’s agriculture landscape with a final destination at the Colorado State Fair. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has also issued a Proclamation declaring August as Colorado Proud Month.
“This month’s tour is especially exciting during our 20th anniversary year, capturing the dynamic combination of history and heritage in our state’s ag communities. The Next Generation of Ag theme puts an umbrella over every aspect of agriculture that’s growing and changing – and that is impacting our state with fresh ideas and, of course, with fresh food,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist for Colorado Proud who has been involved for almost the entirety of the program.
In 1999, the program started with 65 companies; and now, the Colorado Proud program has more than 2,700 members that include farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, restaurants, retailers and schools statewide.
The original goal of Colorado Proud was “to build relationships between farmers, ranchers, food producers, retailers and consumers,” according to White.
“We wanted to give producers and businesses the right tools for sustaining those relationships, while helping them succeed and while educating consumers about the evolving, local food movement. We planted ‘seeds’ for this program in 1999, during a pivotal time in our industry, and we’ll continue to nourish this local interest with more initiatives, education and opportunities.”
The 20-year anniversary is aligned with the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s three primary goals: Supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers; rapidly scaling up investment in high-value agriculture/diversify market opportunities; and promoting and incentivizing soil, water and climate stewardship.
“As we celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary, we are not only supporting the current generation of ag producers and ag businesses, but also building a foundation for future generations of farmers and ranchers,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “Meanwhile, Colorado Proud also educates consumers about how essential agriculture is to our way of life, and how much we all depend on farmers and ranchers to care for the land and continue to grow healthy and delicious food for our communities. The Next Generation of Ag tour is a great way for everybody to experience that connection with agriculture. I invite consumers to visit one of these events to enjoy the tastes of the season and get to know the neighbors who grow our food.”
Besides its new logo, introduced earlier this summer, Colorado Proud will host its annual School Meal Day on Sept. 18 for the next generation of consumers.
In addition, an agriculture symposium for farmers, ranchers, retailers and industry leaders is scheduled for Oct. 16. This educational collaborative is available for industry participants only (not open to the public) and will include a panel of ag experts and open dialogue for discussing complex agriculture issues, trends and solutions.
Colorado agriculture consistently ranks as one of the state’s leading industries, advancing the state’s economy and preserving natural land, the release stated, noting more than 38,000 farms encompassing nearly 32 million acres, providing more than 170,000 jobs, contributing more than $40 billion to the state’s economy annually, and exporting nearly $2 billion in products. Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally for production of a variety of agricultural products.
“Agriculture and local buying will continue to improve Colorado business and lifestyle, making our state even better and playing an important role in our culture. It’s also putting us back in touch with our communities. We are grateful for the social influence of what we used to call a ‘trend,’ but that we now see is an important part of Colorado’s culture and economy — a mainstay,” White said.
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For nearly 40 years, Jonathan Herring has pursued his passion of education as a teacher, administrator, and principal in bigger cities such as Kansas City and Las Vegas.