GUEST OPINION: Moving agriculture forward
Wyoming Department of Agriculture
Agriculture in Wyoming is strong. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, Wyoming was one of the few states that added agricultural lands and ranked first in average size of farm and ranch in the country. We not only contribute more than a billion dollars to the state economy, we do this while preserving the open spaces, culture and heritage that make Wyoming great.
I am honored to be the new director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and proud to have the chance to build on the positive momentum of agriculture in our state and continue building opportunities for our industry. Agriculture faces many challenges but this industry is up to the task.
As part of this, I hope to emphasize the reality to a larger audience that agriculture is one of our best tools for improving our symbiotic relationship with the environment. Producers in Wyoming are stewards of the land and protect it in ways that are beneficial for everyone in the state. It’s time more people understood that agriculture not only works on the land, it sustains it and preserves it for future generations while providing habitat for wildlife and other uses.
Along with this, it’s vital to remember that there is great value in the traditional agriculture practiced in Wyoming. Without agriculture, we lose a lot of what makes Wyoming great. We lose the open spaces we love, stewards of the land who care for it, and valuable income to Wyoming, as well as things that are not easily quantified like the culture and heritage of our great state. Along with supporting traditional agriculture, it’s also important to continue the advancement of innovations and technology in agriculture. Tradition and innovation can, and do, live together in Wyoming to provide value to the state that is unmatched by any industry. Maintaining these traditional values along with innovation is important. These values not only benefit the agriculture industry, but society as a whole.
While the agriculture industry provides several significant values to our state, the most precious are its people. They are a hard working, honest and value driven group who strive to provide quality products for their family, community, state, nation and people around the world. The people from the agriculture industry can be, and are ambassadors for this way of life. Reaching out to those who don’t know about or understand agriculture is imperative.
While I hope younger generations that want to return to the ranch or farm will have the opportunity if they choose, their agricultural backgrounds will still serve them well moving forward if they have other interests. We can always benefit from more Wyoming ranch kids occupying important positions regardless of what career they chose. They can be the connection to agriculture for a multitude of people outside the industry. While there are many worthwhile professions within agriculture that can be explored, there are other opportunities to spread the positives of agriculture around the state and country. Along with this, there is room in the agriculture industry for those with no agricultural background. They can provide fresh perspectives and ideas to help move the industry forward. We all depend on a thriving agricultural system in our state and country.
As director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, I will work hard to continue moving the department in a positive direction for agriculture. We will work hard on making sure agriculture thrives in Wyoming and Wyoming consumers understand the value we provide. It’s a great industry and I am proud to be a part of it.