Lieutenant governor: Cattlemen should be proud
Colorado’s farmers and ranchers may be going through some difficult times at the moment, but they should be proud of how much the agricultural industry means to the state’s economy.
That according to Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who came to Grand Junction on Tuesday to help celebrate the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s 150th birthday.
“You’re the vital part of many economies across the state and have been consistently, decade after decade, generation after generation,” Lynne told nearly 200 people at the association’s annual convention at the DoubleTree Hotel. “You are a huge economic engine for us.”
Agricultural exports in the state continue to do well, according to statistics maintained by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The industry as a whole contributes about $40 billion to the state’s economy, and employs about 175,000 people, Lynne said.
The state’s beef industry makes up nearly $4 billion of that total.
The problem in the past year, however, isn’t the amount of sales, but the prices others are paying for Colorado exports. Most have gone down dramatically while the cost of doing business — fuel, seed, feed and other necessities — has gone up.
Lynne said that one way to keep the industry growing — and profitable — is to make sure the state continues to have free-trade agreements with other nations, particularly south of the border and in Asia.
She said Gov. John Hickenlooper and others in Colorado are concerned about President Donald Trump’s discussions about altering the North American Free Trade Agreement, and any new trade agreement that might come about with Asia now that he has formally taken the nation out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
“Thinking about some of our trading partners, whether it’s Japan or Brazil or Mexico or South Korea, we also know that keeping those markets as free as they are now, for you is going to be an important conversation,” she said. “The governor is planning on having (discussions) with this administration, and I know you, the Cattlemen’s Association, are also really concerned about some of that.”