The Forum, an annual event highlighting trends in Colorado agriculture, was themed "Farm to Table: What do Consumers Really Want?" That theme took various forms, including perspectives from Governor John Hickenlooper and Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar on the driving forces of agriculture in the state, as well as insights into the minds of Colorado consumers from Colorado State University economic experts.
"Colorado's producers have proven themselves to be resilient and innovative, while continuing to meet the world's needs for food, fiber and energy," said Hickenlooper in a letter inviting the public to the Forum. "We have continued to see new growth in the agricultural sector via new patent applications, as well as increases in natural and organic goods production, giving Colorado's consumers more choice."
"Colorado consumers appreciate the work of our state's producers, and that came through in the day's discussions," said Salazar. "We are proud of our farm families who contribute more than $40 billion a year to the state's economy, and we're glad to see that Colorado's citizens care about buying from our local producers."
The keynote speaker at the Forum, Director Keith Schneller of the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai, China, provided an international perspective on consumer preferences.
"There are emerging opportunities for Colorado food products in the e-commerce marketplace in China," Schneller said after the event. "Chinese consumers recognize that American producers create quality products, and we are excited to take advantage of these revolutionary new online opportunities."
In addition to the international perspective provided at the event, attendees got a close look at consumer preferences from the statewide and countywide perspective with research presented by CSU experts, Professor Dawn Thilmany-McFadden and Extension Agent Adrian Card.
"Coloradans continue to support the important role of agriculture in providing affordable food, contributing to quality of life and serving as stewards of water and land," said Thilmany-McFadden. "Because of that, we're seeing a boom in locally grown produce and Colorado-made food products because demand is so high."
The 2014 Governor's Forum was hosted by the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP), the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), and CSU. This is the first time in more than five years that the CALP will assist in the planning of the Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture. The event was originally co-created by members of CALP, CDA, and CSU.
CALP is a leadership training group that exposes emerging leaders in Colorado agriculture to the diverse aspects of the state's farm economy. The program was re-instated last year under the leadership of Commissioner John Salazar and State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg after several years of inactivity. Now, CALP's nearly 30 Leadership Fellows are using the knowledge they have gained about Colorado agriculture over the past year in order to create a dynamic program for the 2014 Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture.
For more information on the Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture or the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program, contact Angie Cue at firstname.lastname@example.org.