Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture Feb. 23 in Denver Examines Food Safety and Food Security

Agriculture’s produce sector faces unique challenges in preventing food-borne illness, yet can learn from food-safety advances in the meat sector, says Lawrence Goodridge, Colorado State University food microbiologist.

The race is on for new research-based knowledge to improve food safety as agriculture faces the grand challenge of global food security: the need to feed a mounting global population, expected to top 9 billion people by 2050. Meantime, agriculture must conserve natural resources and protect the environment.

These issues will be central to discussion during the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture at the Renaissance Denver Hotel on Thursday. The 2012 forum focuses on food safety and food security; it is planned and co-hosted by Colorado State University and the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Among the guest speakers is Goodridge, an associate professor in the Colorado State Department of Animal Sciences, who gained prominence for his food-safety expertise during the 2011 nationwide outbreak of listeriosis, traced to Listeria in some Colorado cantaloupe.

“It does seem that outbreaks of food-borne disease are shifting from meat to produce, and this presents complications because consumers don’t cook all produce,” said Goodridge, who works with Colorado State’s renowned Center for Meat Safety and Quality. “We’re working to address these questions with new research to understand what can be done starting with growers and processors, and ending with consumers in their homes.”

Several national and state experts on food safety and security, including other Colorado State researchers, will speak at the Governor’s Forum Colorado Agriculture.

Other speakers include: Gov. John Hickenlooper; U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture; Edward Avalos, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar; and Colorado State President Tony Frank.

“Each year, the forum examines current issues facing agriculture,” Salazar said. “We hope information shared by national and state leaders helps shape a future for Colorado agriculture that is grounded in thoughtful and insightful decision making.”

The forum is planned in the context of agriculture’s robust and dependable role in the Colorado economy: Agriculture annually contributes an estimated $40 billion to the state economy, not including retailing, according to a new report by Colorado State agricultural economists.

Other discussion topics:
The Colorado Agricultural Cluster – A project to develop connections among Colorado’s agricultural sectors as part of the Colorado Blueprint, the state’s bottom-up approach to economic development.
Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program – A new professional-development program to boost leadership capabilities of Coloradoans committed to agriculture and rural communities.

Time change: The forum begins at 8 a.m., 30 minutes earlier. Registration and continental breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m.

Pre-forum reception: Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion in Denver, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Complete agenda:

Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture will be webcast live at