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Ag leaders discuss innovations at conferenceAg leaders discuss innovations at conference

Discussions included water resilience, regenerative practices.

Farm Press Staff

August 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Robert Bonnie
USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie was a featured speaker at the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture's recent conference in Denver, Colo.Tim Hearden

Agriculture officials from 15 Western states and territories gathered in Denver, Colo, recently for the annual Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference.

Discussions included an opening youth panel, innovation in water resilience, public, private and philanthropic partnerships, and opportunities for producers using regenerative agriculture practices.

Featured guest speakers included USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, Colorado farmer Robert Sakata, rancher and member of Colorado Agricultural Commission Nick Trainor, and others.

“Colorado’s family farmers and ranchers, of all scales and operation types, have been leading conservation and innovative production efforts across the state. It was an honor to show my Western counterparts the work they put into stewarding natural resources, cultivating new markets, and supporting future generations,” said Kate Greenberg, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture and outgoing WASDA Board President. “Colorado producers have been on the leading edge of climate smart agricultural practices and we were able to showcase their work and ideas to our partners across the West.”

This year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture introduced a new scholarship opportunity for young leaders interested in agriculture in the West by launching the WASDA NextGen Scholarship fund, which provided funding for seven young leaders to attend the 2023 conference.

Miles Lee was among the inaugural scholarship recipients. Lee is a Junior Agricultural and Environmental Systems student from Decatur, Ga., who attends North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C., where he is currently focusing on developing sustainable land and food systems.

“We had the opportunity to fully engage in discussions surrounding policy priorities such as water resiliency, international trade efforts, marketing soil health, implementation of regenerative practices, farmer training programs, and extending equity building efforts for underserved producers,” Lee said. “Most importantly, it was more than just being there, as it was about being involved and included in the discussions that shape interactions with our nation's food systems.”

The interactive conference allowed participants to listen to Colorado producers, scientists, conservationists, and other experts and ask them questions. Participants also toured the Colorado State University Spur Campus as well as Lowry Ranch, a property owned by the Colorado State Land Board and leased and operated by Agricultural Commission member Nick Trainor.

WASDA is a regional association of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). WASDA is composed of the Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of Agriculture from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Samoa, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Source: Colorado Department of Agriculture

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