12/10/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/10/2019 15:08
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the United States Senate today, recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Colorado Farm Bureau Federation and celebrating the long history of the Farm Bureau representing the farmers and ranchers of Colorado.
NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner's remarks.
'Agriculture is personal to me. I grew up in Yuma on Colorado's Eastern Plains, a town whose heart lies in agriculture. Our livelihoods and our neighbors livelihoods depend on a strong agriculture industry,' said Senator Gardner. 'Congratulations to the Colorado Farm Bureau for 100 years of being a strong voice for farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities in the Centennial State, and for all your work to protect the Colorado Way of Life. I look forward to continuing our work together with the Farm Bureau and seeing what we can accomplish for the next 100 years of agriculture in Colorado.'
Remarks as delivered:
Thank you, Mr. President. I come to the floor to recognize a very historic milestone in the Colorado agricultural community. The Colorado Farm Bureau is celebrating 100 years of representing farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and every aspect of agriculture in Colorado.
I grew up in the Eastern Plains, in the very heart of agriculture. In fact, the county that I grew up in is one of the largest corn producing counties in the country and certainly one of the top economic, agricultural economically speaking, communities in the state. Our livelihood, our neighbors, everything depends on agriculture. In fact, when there's a downturn in agriculture, it's not just the next day that our community feels that, it's that next hour the community feels the impact. The same with a good agriculture economy, it's not just tomorrow that we'll feel the impact, but immediately we'll feel the impact.
I grew up working in a family farm equipment dealership where you got to know everybody in the community, not because of the kind of operation that they had, but because the kind of person that they were, the kind of relationships that you built. And then of course the opportunities to do business in those communities. There's ebbs and flows, good times and bad times, times of prosperity and times of difficult predicaments in rural America in agriculture.
In the 1980's, I grew up watching one of the hardest times agriculture faced, watching a number of banks face foreclosures, a number of farmers face foreclosures. I watched as people I knew my whole life sold their farms, gave up farming, closed their businesses. It wasn't that long ago, it was just a few years ago in fact, that we saw some of the highest priced commodities this country has ever seen for a very long time. The golden years of agriculture occurred just a couple of years ago because of all-time high prices. That's not the situation that we're facing today. But once you've worked in the agriculture industry I think you develop a very deep understanding and appreciation for the men and women who have our farmers backs through the good times and the bad times, like the Colorado Farm Bureau.
The Farm Bureau plays a vital role in the wellbeing of all aspects of agriculture, gives rural communities a prominent voice when the government is debating policies that impact their farms, their finances, and their families.
The Colorado Farm Bureau began in 1919, when a group of farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, rural doctors, shopkeepers, and tradesmen in 10 local counties met to form what was termed a 'farm bureau.' Their goal was to make the business of farming more profitable and the community a better place to live. The organization struggled through the years and almost died out in the 1930's. In the late 1930's and early 1940's, a group of people across Colorado organized to breathe new life into that farm bureau in Colorado.
Ezra Alishouse, C.J. Phillips, Arthur Andersen, and others sold memberships to rebuild the organization. And as a group of farmers naturally would, the Farm Bureau persisted and grew. They grew the Farm Bureau to become the largest farm organization in the state of Colorado and expanded the support they provided to ag communities throughout the state. In the 1940s farmers and ranchers were having a difficult time insuring their operations, so the Colorado Farm Bureau created a farm insurance casualty company. They began offering farm insurance in 1948, and later in the 1950s, they began offering life insurance for those in the agriculture community.
Today the Colorado Farm Bureau represents 23,000 member families, 45 local county farm bureaus, and is one of the largest farmer-led organizations in the state of Colorado. The Colorado Farm Bureau has a simple mission: 'to promote and protect the future of agriculture and rural values.' They show the people the agriculture industry up close and why it's important to all of us, the success of our rural communities. The Farm Bureau offers leadership training for young professionals, scholarships, college programs, health and safety trainings, helpful resources to farmers, and support when it's needed most. Through the Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, the Farm Bureau has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support victims of natural disasters in Colorado, whether that's drought, whether that's severe blizzards. They represent, improve, and promote all aspects of agriculture in Colorado and develop the industry into the economic powerhouse that it is and one of the strongest drivers of Colorado's economy.
Every year I've been honored to join the Colorado Farm Bureau and have the Colorado Farm Bureau join me on our annual Farm Tour. It's a tradition that I first started when I first came to the House of Representatives every fall when we would go out to the Eastern Plains of Colorado, the Western Slopes of Colorado, and talk to everyone from peach growers in Palisade to corn growers in Kiowa and beyond, opportunities to learn how we can help every nook and cranny of the state when it comes to agriculture. We've traveled this year to 15 different counties across Colorado, visiting family farms, ranches, agricultural businesses, we held roundtables with local elected officials, we went out to a wind farm and talked about the impact that renewable energy is having in positive aspects for our farmers and ranchers.
This Farm Tour wouldn't be possible without Farm Bureau and the others who helped put it together and making sure that we see these important issues that we're facing. In the past, we've turned to them for their expertise in policy, their insights, experience, their partnerships as we champion efforts that will help and benefit rural Colorado. They've been a great partner in providing agricultural producers with the resources and certainty that they need to protect private property rights, to protect our water rights. To ensure that farmers are treated fairly in the tax code, and recently in helping to relocate the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction.
The Farm Bureau is a regular presence Washington, I think all of us know that, and certainly the Colorado Farm Bureau members have played an important role in developing policy. They're not afraid to get their hands dirty and the hard work that it takes to get legislation passed. Colorado Farm Bureau takes on difficult issues and have a real impact on people's lives. Their dedicated work and their willingness to take on difficult issues has also earned them national recognition. In 2005, the Colorado Farm Bureau was recognized by the Department of Interior in Washington for their work with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to protect the mountain plover. This created a win-win partnership that the government and private sector could work on together, to preemptively protect a species without listing it on the Endangered Species Act. The Colorado Farm Bureau was instrumental in opening up 300,000 acres of land for data collection and research on the mountain plover's nesting and population status. Through that effort they were able to avoid listing, develop better management practices, and help grow the mountain plover population.
So I look forward to continuing to hear from Colorado Farm Bureau members, the farmers and ranchers across our state as this chamber, this body, debates new trade opportunities, new agricultural policies, and anything that could impact farmers back home. Their contributions will be especially valuable as we continue to open up new markets for Colorado producers, invest in rural communities, and manage our public lands.
Last month, the Senate passed a resolution I introduced with my colleague Senator Bennet from Colorado, celebrating this historic 100th anniversary, recognizing all the Colorado Farm Bureau's past, present, and future efforts to promote and advocate farm and ranch interests. I ask my colleagues in the Senate to join me today in celebrating Colorado Farm Bureau's rich history and contributions to the ag industry - not just in Colorado, but across the United States.
So congratulations to the Colorado Farm Bureau for your 100 years of being a strong voice for farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities in the Centennial State, and for all your work to protect the Colorado Way of Life. I look forward to continuing our work together with the Farm Bureau and seeing what we can accomplish for the next 100 years of agriculture in Colorado.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.