Colorado

Forty state wheat producers participated in a luncheon with 16 members of the Colorado General Assembly Feb. 19, to educate them on the importance of the Colorado wheat industry to the state's diversified economy and to develop support for important legislative issues.

The Colorado Association of Wheat Growers (CAWG) and the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee (CWAC) jointly hosted the annual Wheat Day at the Capitol event.

Legislative issues discussed included HB 1086, which would create a tax credit mechanism through which up to $4 million in funds could be allocated to "value-added" enterprise development projects each year. Producers investing in qualified projects would be eligible to receive a tax credit valued at 50% of their investment (up to a total credit of $15,000 per investor). The tax credit mechanism only would be utilized in years of surplus state revenues.

CAWG also thanked the legislators for the passage of HB 1020 to change the Colorado Agricultural Marketing Act of 1939 (that governs the wheat marketing order) to permit assessments on wheat produced outside of Colorado for sale in the state and clarify who is required to collect assessments and the defeat of SB 146 to require genetically engineered food to be labeled.

Legislators were informed of the major economic impact that Colorado wheat production and exports have on the state and national economy. Highlights of the past decade (1991-2000) are as follows:

--Colorado is a major wheat producing state, with production of all wheat averaging 87.8 million bushels (or 3.8% of total U.S. production), for a total annual value of $282.5 million.

--Colorado wheat production creates an estimated 18,667 total jobs annually, with approximately 8,762 of these total jobs directly attributed to Colorado wheat exports.

--Wheat is one of Colorado's top ranked exports by dollar volume, since 80% or more of the state's wheat production typically is exported to 60 different countries, for a total annual value of $226 million. (China, Egypt, Japan, Korea and Mexico usually are the top export buyers.).

CAWG and CWAC are two distinctly separate organizations with different, but complementary purposes:

--CAWG is a voluntary membership association that lobbies on behalf of wheat growers, at the state and national levels of government, and provides special programs and benefits to dues paying members, including workers' compensation coverage, and an informative newsletter.

--CWAC is a marketing order funded by a producer-approved assessment of one cent per bushel, which is used for education, research and promotion programs to increase the consumption and utilization of Colorado-produced wheat.

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