As summer has begun, the weather is hot, the grass is green, and a cool breeze is more than welcomed. The work piles on in the heat of June, as does our growing need to conserve the way of life that we love. The distant chirp of the Meadow Lark and the soft humming of toads in the creek, remind us of why we love what we do so much, and the land that allows it. Everyday presents a new challenge for us and how to continue to preserve not only the land that allows us our living, but also our way of life.
With “town” slowly but steadily closing in on the eastern I-70 corridor, the open range, along with the animals that inhabit it, slowly migrate further to the east. Unfortunately, no more land is being made, there is only so much of it to be had. With that being said, lands that were previously used for production agriculture are now being developed. With the growing population of Denver, there are only two ways in which development can move, upward and outward. The front range is rapidly being developed and I would venture to say, is mostly full with an increasing demand for amenities and housing. Due to these conditions, the city is moving east. Where there once were open rangelands and wheat fields as far as the eye could see, there are now housing developments and shopping centers. Though these developments allow for more people to live in this beautiful state that we call home, it threatens the way of life that we hold dear.
Production Agriculture has declined significantly in the last 50 years. With the development of land, the all-consuming financial burdens that farmers face, and the constant distancing of the consumer from the producer, Agriculture faces constant adversity that makes it difficult to keep family farms operating generation after generation. Less than 2% of the population consists of family farmers and ranchers. We are a dying Breed! Not only are these numbers disheartening because American Farmers produce the country’s (and some of the World’s) source of food and fiber, but we are also preserving one of the oldest professions of Man. I truly don’t belive there is a more humbling way of life. To be responsible for feeding a nation is a daunting task, only to be made more burdening when media criminalizes the industry and development closes in around pasture and farmland.
This past week, our family attended the annual Colorado Cattlemen’s Association convention in Colorado Springs. Our family was honored with the Leopold Conservation Award (way to go Keven and Sandi!) and we were able to make connections with important people and conservationists in our industry. The CCA and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust are wonderful advocates on behalf of Ranchers and conservation alike. It’s nice to know that well-known organizations like these back the industry in a tremendous way and lighten burdens for farming and ranching families. Through the CCALT, families can place conservation easement’s on their land so that they can forever remain in production agriculture and never be developed. Through conservation easement’s, families can keep their ranches in the family, while also conserving the land and protecting it from future development. These organizations, along with production Ag families and other supporters of Agriculture, keep our industry and the lands that allow us our way of life going. Here is the link to the CCA and the CCALT website’s: http://coloradocattle.org/ and https://ccalt.org/ .
When I look out over our summer pasture and see the silhouette of cows and calves quietly grazing beneath the blue, Colorado skies, my heart is filled with so much joy and admiration for all of the men and women who are able to share in our way of life and fulfill the needs of a growing nation. In order to continue what we do, we must bridge the gap between consumer and producer and show that our love for the land, livestock, and the native species that encompass the ranch, bestow upon us the duty of conserving not only the environment, but Agriculture as well. Farmers and Ranchers have always been the original conservationists and stewards and we will continue to advocate on behalf of production agriculture and the rangeland as long as we live. Though we face great challenges in Agriculture, we are forever blessed and grateful to protect and conserve.