Ag Week: Wyoming agriculture strong |

Ag Week: Wyoming agriculture strong

Jason Fearneyhough
Director, Wyoming Department of Agriculture

The latest numbers from the Ag Census proved something I already knew about Wyoming agriculture. It’s not only strong, but growing.

Wyoming remained the state with the largest average size farm and ranch in the country at 2,586 acres per farm. The number of farms in Wyoming has grown from 11,069 in 2007 to 11,742 in 2012 with the largest increase coming in smaller operations from 1-49 acres. Along with this, the cash value of agricultural products in Wyoming rose from $1.15 billion in 2007 to $1.69 billion in 2012 with the largest crop value increase in the country over that span.

With more farms and ranches, more land in agriculture, a strong economic impact, and increased production, Wyoming agriculture continues to move in a positive direction that helps provide food and fiber to Wyoming and the growing population of the world.

While Wyoming agriculture is headed in the right direction, the national picture of agriculture is not quite as strong. Short term volatility in the market, numerous challenges from weather from floods to droughts, burdens of regulation, urban sprawl, and more have hurt agriculture in many states. Wyoming faced many of the same challenges but the resiliency of our Wyoming producers helped them push forward and thrive.

Even though there are challenges, there are immense opportunities for the agriculture industry ahead. As the population grows globally, the need of food and fiber grows with it. Agriculture is poised and in a position to see its best times ahead if we can get through the challenges we will undoubtedly face.

Agriculture has always adapted, found solutions through technology, and worked hard to rise above these challenges. Markets and mentality change, but the one thing that won’t change is the drive and work ethic of producers in the state and throughout the country. The opportunities throughout the agriculture industry today and in the years to come from production, to sciences, to sales, to political positions, the agriculture industry will only grow. We need bright young people to step in, fill those needed positions and continue to move us in the right direction.

Wyoming has set a good example for agriculture and we hope the agriculture industry will get on the trajectory we have established in the coming years. Along with this, it’s important that everyone make agriculture a bigger part of their lives. Have conversations about where your food and fiber come from, learn about agriculture in your area and the country, encourage young people to pursue agriculture as a profession and make sure agriculture is a priority in your community because without it, we will not survive.

–Wyo Dept of Ag