Guest Opinion: The People of Wyoming Agriculture
March 15, 2019
The agriculture industry in Wyoming plays a significant role in the success of our state. From the obvious economic benefits it brings to maintaining of the open spaces we all enjoy, agriculture is one of the main factors of what makes Wyoming great. This industry not only provides food and fiber for many and a direct economic impact in our state, it also sustains rural communities and towns, maintains open spaces, provides habitat for wildlife, is important to our history and culture, and facilitates energy growth across our state. The benefits of agriculture to Wyoming are substantial and easily seen in our everyday lives. With that said, the most important impact is the people and families of this industry.
As Director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, I get the opportunity to meet and spend time with producers from across the state. The people of Wyoming ag are a hardworking, dedicated, resilient group of business owners and operators who I consider one of the most important resources in our state. Many of these producers have been on the ranch for generations. Their great grandparents homesteaded here, their families were raised here, and they continue that tradition today. For generations, many of these producers have thrived and succeeded through difficult times with dedication, hard work, business savvy, and a focus on their family and the future.
These producers face difficult challenges every day. Challenges like our ever changing and harsh weather, increased pressure from cumbersome regulations, difficult markets that create thin profit margins, and more make running an agricultural operation in Wyoming a stressful and difficult job. Through all of this, these producers weather the storms, navigate difficult regulatory situations while being great stewards of the land, find ways to diversify their operations to make their businesses succeed, and more while raising the next generation to come and take the business into the future.
As the weather warms and the industry moves forward in 2019, I'd encourage you to take the time to visit with a farmer and rancher about their operations. Learn more about where your food and fiber comes from and the challenges they face. Make the effort to put a face on this important industry. As each generation passes, the general population gets further and further away from the farm. This is the time to learn more about where your food comes from, buy from local producers if you can, and build relationships with these incredible people. This is your chance to learn from the source about this industry that plays such an important role in our state and one that we truly cannot live without.