Ag Outlook Forum to Focus on Energy, Water, Cooperatives

Time is running out to register for the annual Colorado Agricultural Outlook Forum, which this year takes a look at promoting renewable energy in agriculture through the use of alternate energy sources such as biofuels and wind. The forum, "Profits Outside the Box: Agri-Energy and Beyond," begins at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at the Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec St.

The forum will provide the latest information about wind energy development, biofuels and bioproducts, carbon sequestration and information about funding for agricultural-energy products. The agenda also includes presentations on water issues and the role of cooperatives in renewable energy and direct marketing.

"This year’s forum is a timely opportunity to learn about the potential of wind, biofuels and carbon credits and how they contribute to the bottom line of Colorado ag producers," said Don Ament, Colorado commissioner of agriculture. "The drought isn’t over, so we’re also including an update on Colorado’s water situation and strategies of response."

State and national experts are featured at this year’s forum. In addition to Ament, the forum includes:

– Remarks from Colorado State President Larry Penley;

– Lola Spradley, Colorado General Assembly Speaker of the House, on promoting renewable energy in agriculture and rural Colorado;

– Kirk Johnson, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, will speak on the partnership of rural electric cooperatives and agriculture to address climate change;

– Jim Nichols, Minnesota agricultural producer and former commissioner of agriculture, discussing Minnesota’s promotion of renewable energy;

– An outline of federal funding resources for renewable energy projects by the United States Department of Agriculture rural development staff;

– Sessions on biofuels and bioproducts and the importance of cooperatives in renewable energy products, featuring Jeff Probst with Blue Sun Biodiesel; Linley Stum with the Kiowa County Biolubricants Project; and Randy Smith with Northwest SEED; and

– A look at Colorado agriculture’s energy use and renewable energy potential featuring David Carlson, Colorado Agriculture Outlook Forum; Larry Flowers, national wind and technology center; and Ralph Overend, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Smaller workshops scheduled for the event include the following.

– Breakout sessions will describe small and large-scale wind energy projects.

– The 162 megawatt Colorado Green wind energy project south of Lamar will be detailed, including local economic activity it has generated and its effect on the tax base in Prowers County.

– A talk will be given by Dave Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, on a carbon credit program that provides payments to Iowa farmers for land management practices that reduce global warming.

– Cal Kuska, Kuska Associates, compost management experts, will discuss how composting is an efficient method of disposing of animal carcasses.

– Several breakout sessions will address water issues such as the statewide water supply initiative and approaches to mitigate interbasin transfers.

– An update will be presented on the 2004 legislation and Colorado’s fiscal situation.

The forum is preceded by a reception the evening of Feb.18. Forum registration is $90 per person before Feb.6 and $100 thereafter.

To register or for more information, visit the Web at or call 303-477-0076 extension 210.