CAWG hosts Legislative Field Day
The Colorado Association of Wheat Growers hosted a legislative field trip Aug. 29 to familiarize Colorado state legislators with issues facing Colorado wheat farmers and other agricultural businesses.
"This event is an opportunity for us to expose urban legislators to modern agricultural practices," said CAWG President Randy Traxler of Otis. "It also gives us a chance to talk to them in a more relaxed, casual atmosphere than during the legislative session at the state capitol."
Eight Colorado state legislators participated in the event: State Sen. Mike Johnston (D-33), State Sen. Mary Hodge (D-25), State Rep. Beth McCann (D-8), State Rep. Su Ryden (D-36), State Rep. Brian DelGrosso (R-51), State Rep. Jeanne Labuda (D-1), State Rep. Kathleen Conti (R-38) and State Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-25). Tim Burleigh, director of the Markets Division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, also joined the group.
Johnston represents parts of Denver and Adams counties, Hodge represents Adams County, McCann represents Denver County, Ryden represents Arapahoe County, DelGrosso represents Larimer County, Labuda represents Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties, Conti represents Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, and Gerou represents Jefferson County.
The legislators toured the ConAgra flour mill at Commerce City, seeing how wheat is delivered and the processes used to make wheat into flour, and how that flour is delivered nationwide. Lunch included a brief program on CAWG, a description of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee and how that organization supports research at Colorado State University and promotion of Colorado wheat for domestic and export use, and the importance of the wheat industry to Colorado's diverse economy. The estimated value of the 2011 Colorado wheat crop is $608 million.
The group then traveled to Progressive Farms near Byers. CAWG Vice President Mark Linnebur, one of five brothers who operate Progressive Farms, described his family's farming operation and showed the legislators some of the equipment, facilities, and storage at the farm. He emphasized the use of modern farming practices to conserve moisture, and the importance of family to his farming operation.
McCann said, "Although I represent central Denver, which does not include any farmers, I think it is very important for legislators to learn as much as we can about all areas of the state. I have to vote on bills that affect farmers and ranchers so I try to educate myself as much as I can about the issues that affect them and their livelihoods. I find it very valuable to learn about industries that are so important to Colorado. My grandfather was a farmer in Virginia, and I have great memories of playing on the farm as a child. They are wonderful places to raise children and they are vital to Colorado's economy."
McCann said one of the new things she learned on the field trip was the number of flours produced by the ConAgra mill. "I was surprised by the variety of flour that the ConAgra mill produces. I hadn't thought about the fact that they need to respond to each customer's requests for flour so they produce standard flour, various kinds of whole wheat flour, gluten free products, high and low protein flour and various other types of flour."
Traxler said CAWG will likely continue this annual event, possibly adding other field trips relevant to wheat farming, such as to the wheat research facilities at CSU.