Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to speak at Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has served for four years as steward of the nation’s public lands, will headline the 2013 Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture, a daylong conference focusing on the critical role of innovation to the future of U.S. agriculture.

The forum, called “Cultivating Innovation: Creating Ideas for our Future,” will run 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Denver Renaissance Hotel and will include a number of timely talks and breakout sessions. Cost is $100 per person, including breakfast and lunch; registration is available online at (The early registration deadline is Feb. 4; then cost increases to $120.)

The annual event is co-hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University.

Salazar, former U.S. Senator for Colorado, is a fifth-generation Colorado resident and has helped run his historic family farming and ranching operation, El Rancho Salazar, on the southern edge of the San Luis Valley. His brother, John Salazar, is the Colorado commissioner of agriculture.

Salazar will be part of a notable lineup of speakers during the forum’s morning session. Others on the agenda:

• Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper;
• Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar;
• Colorado State University President Tony Frank;
• Michael Raynor, director of Deloitte Consulting and author of best-selling books including “The Innovator’s Solution” and “The Innovator’s Manifesto”; and
• Leann Saunders, president of IMI Global, Inc., an agricultural verification solutions company and founder of the Where Food Comes From® food labeling program; she also is vice chair of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and leads the federation’s Traceability Working Group.

“We are pleased to present speakers who will help us understand the urgent need for innovation in agriculture and will provide us with specific examples that are helping our industry. Their experiences and insights will undoubtedly spark great ideas among people attending,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean of the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

Innovation in agriculture has become a top concern as farmers and ranchers are challenged to double food production by 2050 in order to feed a world population expected to top 9 billion people. At the same time, agriculture must conserve environmental resources and improve food safety, among other challenges.

“Innovation is a key to our future in agriculture as we consider the challenges ahead, and all of us, from producers to policy-makers, play a part in advancing innovation,” Commissioner Salazar said.

Among these challenges is a need to dramatically increase food production with less land and water; water issues will be specifically addressed by two speakers at the forum:

• Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr., will present two sessions on the history of Colorado water law; and
• James Pritchett, an agricultural economist at CSU, will discuss a survey of Colorado farmers and ranchers meant to better understand the impacts of the 2012 drought.

Other breakout sessions during the forum will feature:

• LaTonya Mitchell, Denver district director for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Devin Koontz, public affairs specialist, for the FDA Denver District Office, who will present “Food Safety Modernization Act – Proposed Rules on Produce Safety and on Preventive Controls for Human Food”;
• Ron Carleton, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, who will provide an update on the U.S. Farm Bill; and
• Diane Mulligan, president of Mulligan & Co. of Denver and a specialist in strategic communication, who will discuss the changing face of communications.

Each year, the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture addresses an important theme of the day, focused through the lens of Colorado agriculture, which contributes an estimated $40 billion each year to the state economy and employs an estimated 173,000 people.

The forum will be preceded by a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion.

The Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture is held in conjunction with the Colorado FFA Foundation’s Agriculture Hall of Fame Banquet. The banquet will be the evening of Feb. 14, also at the Denver Renaissance Hotel. For information about the 2013 Agriculture Hall of Fame inductees, and to register for the banquet, visit