CSU College of Agricultural Sciences Delegation to Tour Southern Colorado Farms, Talk with Growers

Note to Reporters: Reporters are invited to cover the round-table discussion with potato growers and other San Luis Valley farmers. It is set to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the San Luis Valley Research Center, 249 E. Road 9N, Center, Colorado.

A delegation from Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences will tour farms and ranches in southern Colorado Aug. 8-10 to better understand producer successes and challenges in one of the state’s key agricultural areas.

Craig Beyrouty, dean of the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences, will lead the tour through the San Luis Valley – a high-elevation valley with a rich agricultural history that notably has found a niche in potato production. About two dozen professors, researchers and college staff members will join in.

“This is the third annual summertime tour our college has taken through important agricultural communities in Colorado,” Beyrouty said. “The tours are a great way to connect our teaching and research on campus with the top concerns of state producers.”

During the three-day tour, the delegation will meet with cattle, barley, potato and other vegetable growers, with stops in Bailey, Center and Antonito. Among the stops will be El Rancho Salazar, run by LeRoy Salazar, brother of Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and John Salazar, commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, the CSU group will participate in a round-table discussion with San Luis Valley growers. The discussion will be hosted at the San Luis Valley Research Center, run by the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.

The research center works closely with farmers to advance Colorado’s robust potato industry, which tallied $156 million in sales in 2010, according to the Colorado Agricultural Statistics report. The center developed three potato varieties that were planted this season in the White House vegetable garden, which quickly raised the national profile of Colorado potatoes.

Previous College of Agricultural Sciences tours have focused on parts of the Western Slope and northern Colorado. During these tours, farmers and ranchers have discussed with CSU representatives concerns related to the public perception of agriculture, labor issues, drought, farm technologies and availability of water for agricultural production, among other pressing matters.

“Our tours are valuable because they give us a ground-eye view of Colorado agriculture, and staying in touch with producers is an important part of CSU’s land-grant mission,” Beyrouty said.