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At Ag Day, Water Talk Just As Dominant As Agriculture Talk

Luke Runyon

Colorado officials touted the state's ability to grow food Tuesday for National Agriculture Day. Another topic captured just as much attention.

What topic? Water.

Without it, nothing can grow. The state's ongoing drought has parched almost every region home to Colorado agriculture. The lack of water colored most conversations at the Ag Day celebration.

"We know it's perhaps the biggest challenge our farmers and ranchers face here in Colorado and we've had that ongoing drought that has lasted for years,” Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia said.

While the epic dry spell has kept many farmers from growing crops, Garcia said food producers haven't taken a huge hit. Crop insurance has been a savior, along with emergency loans from the federal government. 

Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar says the reality is, without massive amounts of moisture, crops like wheat, corn and potatoes will continue to suffer. A silver lining could be high prices on those crops.

“Prices will actually remain high because there's such a huge international demand for the great products that the Colorado producers produce,” Salazar said.

Some solace for farmers and ranchers waiting for Colorado’s spring storms.

As KUNC’s managing editor and reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I edit and produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.
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