Governor’s Forum on Agriculture Focuses on Labor, Technology and the Future of Ag

State and national leaders in the field of agriculture, including Gov. Bill Ritter, Commissioner of Agriculture John Stulp, Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin and Abner Womack of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, will speak at the annual Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Renaissance Denver Hotel.

The forum, themed "Learning from our Past, Cultivating our Future," will kick off at 8 a.m. with opening remarks from Commissioner Stulp and Gov. Ritter.

The future of Colorado agriculture will be explored by members of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. The details of a year-long study that addresses major issues facing the agriculture industry in Colorado, including consumer demand, marketing, environmental factors, water, labor and land use, will be presented. CSU presenters include Steve Davies, chairman of the department, and professor’s Norm Dalsted, Steve Koontz, James Pritchett and Dawn Thilmany.   

Conklin, president of the Farm Foundation, previously served as director of the market and trade economics division of USDA’s Economic Research Service. Before joining USDA, Conklin spent six years at the Farm Credit Council as vice president and chief economist. He previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget, and has had teaching assignments at Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Colorado State University.

At the University of Missouri, Womack serves as senior economist with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, of which he is a co-founder. During his employment at the USDA Economic Research Service, Womak’s work involved econometric models that focused on the structure of the global food system.

Afternoon break-out sessions will examine new technologies in fertilizers, credit and finance opportunities for agriculturalists, animal care and welfare, and the H-2A agriculture labor pilot program.    

A pre-forum reception will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18, at the governor’s residence at Boettcher Mansion from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Deadline for early registration is Feb. 6. The cost is $100 or $45 for students. After Feb. 6, registration is $120 or $50 for students. Registration is available at or (303) 239-4100.

The forum is followed by the annual Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame banquet and reception. Registration for the event is separate from the forum. Information is available at or (970) 249-1465.

The Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture is hosted by Gov. Bill Ritter, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University with the support of the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Associates and more than 50 organizations, businesses and agencies interested in the future of Colorado agriculture.