Water needs, challengers focus of Governor’s Forum on Colo. agriculture

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will welcome industry experts, scholars, producers and policy-makers to the 2015 Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture this week at a daylong conference focusing on water needs across the state of Colorado and the challenges created by increased demand for water from agriculture and consumers.

“Water, Colorado’s Treasure” will be held Feb. 26 at the Denver Renaissance Hotel. The event will include a number of timely talks and breakout sessions. Registration is available online at

The annual event is co-hosted by the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University.

Hickenlooper will welcome a notable lineup of speakers during the Forum’s morning session. Others on the agenda include:

• Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown;

• Dean of the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Craig Beyrouty;

• 7NEWS Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson;

• Executive Director of the Colorado Water Congress Doug Kemper; and

• Denver Water’s Greg Fisher, manager of Demand Planning with Denver Water;

• Ron Carleton, counselor to the Administrator for Agricultural Policy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This year’s Forum features presentations that recognize the changing face of agriculture combined with a recognition of the traditions that have been at the core of agricultural production for generations,” said Dean Beyrouty. “Our speaking program will highlight pressing issues in agriculture including new approaches to agricultural education, innovations in production techniques, and enhancements to food safety and security.”

Agriculture remains a central component of the Colorado economy and has contributed more than $40 billion to the state economy and creates nearly 173,000 jobs each year.

“Our ability to come together on water will determine Colorado’s future. We must be open to discovering new ways to conserve and manage water in a way that protects our agricultural productivity while also preserving the cities, environment and recreation,” said Hickenlooper. “This Forum is an important opportunity for our leaders in agricultural to explore new and creative approaches to water that are crucial for Colorado’s success.”

The audience will also hear from rancher Carlyle Currier, owner of Sakata Farms Robert Sakata, and former Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture and farmer John Stulp. Director of the Colorado Water Institute and Chair of the Colorado State University Water Center Reagan Waskom will also speak at the Forum.

Other breakout sessions during the Forum will feature:

• “How to maximize the value of your water by enhancing the environmental benefits of irrigation” – Meg White, Paul Kehmeier, Aaron Derwingson, Greg Kernohan;

• “Food Safety: Understanding the rules for agricultural water” – Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning, Science & Technology at Western Growers Association Hank Giclas;

• “Value of Ag Water” – Assistant Vice President in the CSU Office of Engagement James Pritchett;

• “Water quality issues in four Colorado rivers: what is the role of agriculture?” – Troy Bauder, Ryan Bailey, Dave Kanzer, Heather Dutton;

• “Droughtland” documentary directed and produced by Steffan Tubbs.

The forum will be preceded by a reception from 5:30 -7 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion. The reception also will include a recognition for John Salazar, who retired as Commissioner of Agriculture in January 2015.

The Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture is held in conjunction with the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The ceremony will take place the evening of Feb. 26, also at the Denver Renaissance Hotel.

CSU Professor of Animal Sciences Temple Grandin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for her significant contributions to the state and nation’s agricultural industry.

CSU Vice President for Engagement and Associate Professor in Agricultural Resource Economics James Pritchett will be honored with the 2015 Rising Star in Colorado Agriculture award at the event.

For information about the 2015 Agriculture Hall of Fame inductees, and to register for the ceremony, visit

–Colorado State University