My favorite color is green.
I was reminded of that as I traveled to Greeley, Colo., to attend and speak at the annual Colorado Farm Bureau summer conference. We truly do have a beautiful state and it is no wonder that everyone would like to live here.
I began my trek traveling through the Florida Mesa, Oxford, Ignacio, Allison and Arboles southeast of Durango and viewed the beautiful green hayfields irrigated by the stored water of?Lemon and Vallecito Reservoirs and contrasted by the yellow non-irrigated dry lands that hunger for rain.
I traveled on to the high mountain meadows of Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek Pass and South Fork kept green by mountain showers and the rotational grazing of multicolored cattle.
I then proceeded on through the San Luis Valley with miles and miles of blooming alfalfa and potato fields interspersed with barley fields made green with water pumped from underground reservoirs rejuvenated by the Rio Grande runoff.
I concluded my trip in Weld County which is one of the top agriculture producing counties in the United States. There I saw acres and acres of carrot, onion, lettuce, cabbage, sweet corn, alfalfa, grass, wheat and barley fields made green by stored water from the mountain snow runoff.
Add to this the rest of Colorado, and you have a huge industry.
You can’t talk about agriculture without talking water. Whether it is the half-acre garden for growing products for the local farmers market, the 200-acre diversified family farm, or the 1,000-acre cattle ranch with a forest permit, water is essential for survival in Colorado.
Until recently, southwest Colorado has been as brown as winter except where irrigation water has quenched the land’s thirst. If it weren’t for our stored water we would be in real bad shape.
Conversely, northern Colorado has had almost too much rain.
Fueled by development, the front range of Colorado has an insatiable thirst for water, especially West Slope water. That demand will continue until it is satisfied.
Last year 600,000 acre feet of Colorado water flowed through the eastern plains to Nebraska, water that if stored in Colorado would satisfy that demand. This year it is estimated that 1,000,000 acre feet of our water will go to downstream eastern states. It is imperative that we build water storage projects in Colorado, especially on the front range. I’m convinced that with adequate water storage, places east of the Continental Divide won’t need West Slope water.
We can all agree that we like to eat, and it is kind of nice to spend less than 10 percent of our income on food. It is truly an honor to be one of a handful of Colorado legislators who are agricultural producers. Agriculture is the second largest sector of Colorado’s diverse economy with cash receipts of more than $6.3 billion and providing more than 105,000 jobs. In Colorado the color green is synonymous with life and agriculture. It is no wonder that green is my favorite color.