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State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, who is also an Eagle County rancher, is on a statewide listening tour, focused on the state of  Colorado’s agriculture industry.

Last week she conducted meetings virtually and in-person with agriculture industry leaders from a number of organizations, including Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado Livestock Association, National Western Stock Show, Colorado Wheat, Colorado Future Farmers of America, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Colorado Potato Advisory Committee, among others.

Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan (Photo courtesy of Chaffee County Democrats)

“Agriculture isn’t just a rural issue,” she said. “The agriculture industry is an irreplaceable thread in the tapestry of Colorado’s economy – their success is the state’s success.

“As the Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, it’s my job to make sure that the voices of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers are being heard at the Capitol. I plan to come back from this tour prepared to amplify their voices – the story of Colorado’s future isn’t complete without them.”

Colorado’s diverse agricultural and food industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy, generating in the range of $40 billion annually. Colorado agriculture supports more than 170,000 jobs and is home to some of the nation’s leading processed foods companies. Colorado also ranks first in the country for the production of proso millet and in the top ten in approximately 20 other commodities, including cattle, winter wheat, market sheep, wool production, alfalfa, potatoes, onions, apples, peaches, grapes, and melons.

The most pressing challenges that lie ahead for Colorado all have a major impact on agriculture: COVID-19, water and drought, wildfires, labor shortages, and more. No one understands those issues better than the people on the ground whose lives and livelihood depend on a prosperous future for the agriculture industry. Their stories will illuminate a path forward, and Senator Donovan aims to carry them back to the Capitol with her, prepared to share her insights and meet this critical moment with the knowledge and energy it requires.

Three of every four Colorado residents believe agriculture is important to the quality of life in the state. One out of three rank agriculture as the most important economic sector in Colorado, followed by tourism and high tech.

Donovan plans to visit 15 counties during roughly 30 different stops across all four corners of the state. Over the next few weeks, she will meet with farmers, ranchers, small business owners, researchers, and other industry leaders to hear their stories about the challenges they’re currently facing and their vision  for the future of agriculture in Colorado.