agriculture

For the Midwesterner who likes to eat local, this time of year is a challenge. Browse the produce shelves in middle America — or any place where snow falls in winter — and you'll find carrots from Mexico and peppers from Peru.

  • Montrose school closes over pipe damage
  • Norwood mayor resigns, leaves vacancy
  • Delta County Commissioners are ready to consider changes to zoning and planning
  • A look at how farmers are reducing energy use  

  •  New service allows mentally distressed youth to text for help
  • Plans are in the works to develop defunct CSU agricultural research site
  • Pipe bursts during Ouray Ice Climbing Festival
  • Majority of voters don’t want state control of federal lands
  • Clean Water Act changes vetoes by President Obama
Galley Ranch
Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

A grant will help preserve a ranch within the Uncompahgre National Forest.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust received $436,000 to conserve 705 acres of the Galley Ranch. The money comes from Great Outdoors Colorado. 

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

So instead she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. A mentality that terrifies American Christmas tree growers.

Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture, food and natural resource sectors each year for the next five years, according to a report from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The American agriculture industry has a problem though; there are not enough grads to fill those jobs. The report projects about two open jobs for every qualified graduate. That’s left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap.

  • Delta announces city manager hire
  • BLM gates road closed to OHV travel near Lake City
  • Report finds Colorado ‘toddling’ towards early childhood literacy
  • There are jobs in ag, there’s just not enough new grads to fill ‘em

Suze Smith

Late-season gardening tips from garden gurus Lance Swigart & Lulu Volckhausen, hosted by Jill Spears

"Colorful Colorado" may one day need to be referred to as "Crowded Colorado," given the number of people expected to soon move here.

Weld County's population is expected to double to half-a-million – and El Paso County will still be the largest county. It's not just the Front Range; A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of data from the state demographer and the U.S. Census Bureau shows seven of the 10 fastest growing counties will be on the Western Slope, including Eagle, Garfield and Routt.

The numbers show an estimated 7.8 million people will call Colorado home by 2040. All that growth will take a toll on the state's infrastructure as well as water and other natural resources.

Amber Kleinman / iSeeChange

Harvest is done on the Western Slope.  All the cherries, peaches,  apples, and pears have been picked and sold, and now frost and snow is settled in.  Over at iseechange.org, several people were keeping track of the long growing season and the turn to winter.  

  • Roadless Rule Exemption back on track
  • Counties conflicted over pay raises
  • Officials warn about stomach virus spreading
  • Longer growing seasons could mean good news and bad news for growers

When The Alpaca Bubble Burst, Breeders Paid The Price

Nov 9, 2015

Known for their calm temperaments and soft fleece, alpacas looked like the next hot thing to backyard farmers. The market was frenetic, with some top of the line animals selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the bubble burst, leaving thousands of alpaca breeders with near-worthless herds. Today, craigslist posts across the country advertise “herd liquidations” and going out of business deals on alpacas, some selling for as low as a dollar.

It’s just one more chapter in a long line of agricultural speculative bubbles that have roped in investors throughout history, throwing money at everything from emus to chinchillas to Berkshire pigs to Dutch tulips, only to find themselves in financial ruin after it bursts.

  • Program helps Coloradans with winter heating costs
  • State Senator Kerry Donovan details legislative priorities
  • The alpaca bubble burst and backyard farmers are still picking up the pieces

  •  USDA declares Delta County a Disaster Area, along with Montrose, Gunnison, and Mesa
  • Lawmakers try to  incentivize protecting homes from wildfires
  • Amtrak line secure with more federal funding

It's fall. Time to pick apples. For some of us, that's casual recreation, a leisurely stroll through picturesque orchards.

For tens of thousands of people, though, it's a paycheck. They drive hundreds of miles for the apple harvest in central Washington, western Michigan, the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York, and Adams County, Pa.

"The truth is, every apple that you see in the supermarket is picked by hand," says Philip Baugher, who runs a fruit tree nursery in Adams County.

More and more schools are trying to serve meals with food that was grown nearby. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released some statistics documenting the trend.

  • Manhunt in San Miguel County for armed man who threatened police
  • Voters asked to support increase in taxes for emergency services
  • Olathe officer cleared in death
  • A look back at how the weather affected this year’s hay market

Nowadays consumers are more willing to pay extra for a rack of ribs if it's produced nearby. A local bone-in ribeye, on average, costs about $1 more than a conventional steak. A pound of local sliced bacon has a $2 upcharge, according to retail reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What are we paying for when we pay more for local meat? Lots of things. But small producers say one key issue that's holding them back, and driving up costs, is the strict rules when it comes to how they slaughter their animals.

  • Facebook helps in Grand Junction arrest
  • Initiative nears deadline for health insurance overhaul
  • Burns planned for slash piles near Lake City
  • Ballots sent out today, voting machines tested
  • Entrepreneurs aim to make insects compete with meat

  • Former Delta chief of police received $50K severance package
  • Local organizations hope to create business and resource center in Delta
  • Governor heads aboard on trade mission
  • Demonstration plot help farmers optimizes, prepare for drought
  • Nonprofit announces $20 million prize for CO2 innovation

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a final version of updated rules intended to keep farmworkers from being poisoned by pesticides. The previous "worker protection standard" for farms has been in effect since 1992.

Montrose County in western Colorado is an agricultural community. Everything from apples to zucchini is grown there. However, not everyone knows what’s in season, how they can access it or how to prepare it.

The Local Farmacy Rx program is trying to change that. Through it low-income families learn how to eat healthy locally. 

Colorado's South Platte River basin is a powerhouse for crops and cattle. Massive reservoirs quench the region's thirst, with farm fields generally first in line. Wildlife? It's often last.

A small win-win though is giving waterfowl a little more room at the watering hole. It's a program that creates warm winter ponds for migrating ducks — then gives the water back, in time for summer crops.

Colorado's ban on collecting rain from residential rooftops has been a contentious topic at the statehouse, and a proposed bill for 2016 means it will likely be debated once again.

"Colorado is the only western state where rain barrels are illegal," said Drew Beckwith, a water policy manager with the nonprofit Western Resource Advocates.

"Every other western state that has our water laws has them legal, and it has not caused the Earth to come crashing to a halt."

So why is there so much controversy over collecting rainwater? The sticking point is whether doing so impacts downstream water users.

  • Two shootings in Mesa County
  • Sharing Ministries Food Bank in Montrose raises over $1 million for new facility
  • Telluride considers tiny homes to address housing shortage
  • Slaughterhouses remain resilient to automation

On a research farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado, in a secret location, buried in the middle of a corn field, grows Colorado’s newest and most buzzed about commodity crop -- industrial hemp.

It’s almost harvest time at the farm, and soon researchers at Colorado State University will be adding bushels of hemp next to the usual, familiar piles of corn, wheat and oats.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, but it’s lacking in psychoactive properties. Instead, it’s grown more for fiber and oil. But decades of prohibition have left academia lacking in published scientific research about the plant’s very basic properties.

CSU Rogers Mesa Agricultural Research Center
Linda Rubick

A group of Delta County stakeholders wants to breathe new life into a shuttered agricultural research center. The Colorado State University facility sits on 83 acres outside of Hotchkiss on Rogers Mesa. 

The property has a residence, classrooms, laboratory space, offices, cold storage, a greenhouse and equipment storage sheds. 

CSU used the site to conduct research on fruit trees, but now the classrooms and laboratories sit empty.

  • Feds pledge $211M to protect sage grouse
  • Thousands without irrigation water in Mesa County due to Issues with 38 Road repairs
  • Delta County hopes to see Rogers Mesa agricultural site comeback to life
  • Interview with incoming State Supreme Court Justice Robert Gabriel

The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Initially the agency downplayed the incident and provided little information. So Navajo President Russell Begaye traveled to the source of the toxic spill and posted a video of it on Facebook.

In the video, he stands in front of the still-leaking mine.

Small Potatoes Farm
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The state is offering financial assistance to Colorado farmers looking to move away from using flood irrigation. 

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