Drought is Topic for Colorado Agricultural Outlook Forum

The annual Colorado Agricultural Outlook Forum on Feb. 20, 2003, will focus on Colorado’s drought and low commodity prices in today’s agricultural markets. The event, called "Weathering Tough Times Together," takes place at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver.

The forum is sponsored by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Agricultural and Rural Leadership program graduates.

"This year’s drought has been one of many factors affecting Colorado’s farmers and ranchers," said Don Ament, Colorado commissioner of agriculture. "The 2003 forum is an opportunity for us to learn about more ways to get through these tough times. Working together, I’m convinced that we can position agriculture for a promising future."

Colorado is in its fourth year of drought and the environmental and economic effects are severe. Every county in Colorado was in a drought disaster in 2002. The economic loss from winter wheat is estimated at $120 million with the harvest size being the smallest since 1968. Reservoirs in the state are less that half full and an estimated 20 percent to 50 percent of farmers and ranchers will be lost from the industry, according to experts.

Colorado State President Albert C. Yates and Attorney General of Colorado Ken Salazar will be among the many educational, business and political leaders contributing to the forum.

Others speakers include Nolan Doesken, Colorado State Climate Center research associate; Dave Little, Denver Water Resource Planning manager; Eric Wilkinson, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District general manager; and Reeves Brown, Club 20 president.

The forum will run from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and will include breakout sessions from 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Breakout sessions will cover irrigation strategies, dry cropland and rangeland strategies, water sharing strategies, agriculture and wildlife strategies, managing risk, stress and conflict and a legislative update on water issues.

Registration is $90 before Feb. 7 and $100 thereafter. Full-refund cancellations are accepted in writing until Feb. 1. Registration is available the morning of the event from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.

For more information or to register, call (800) 886-7683 or visit the forum’s Web site at www.coloradoagforum.com. A special room rate at the Renaissance Hotel is available to people who mention the forum and make room reservations by Feb. 12 at (800) 468-3571.