Colorado agriculture

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The demand for locally grown and produced foods in Colorado over the past 10 years has gone from being a mere trend to a lifestyle for many Coloradans.

This according to a recent survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), in collaboration with Colorado State University, about consumer attitudes toward agriculture.

Brandon Biesemeier climbs up a small ladder into a John Deere sprayer, takes a seat in the enclosed cab, closes the door, and blocks out most of the machine’s loud engine hum. It is a familiar perch to the fourth-generation farmer on Colorado’s eastern plains.

He turns onto a country road, heading south to spray an herbicide on his cornfields, an early growing season task his genetically engineered crops demand if he is to unlock their value. In the cab, a computer screen shows a little pixelated tractor moving across digital fields, logging his work.

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Colorado agriculture, like much of the High Plains region, is facing many challenges  - a changing marketplace in which commodity prices are the same as they were decades ago while costs continue to climb, a looming climate catastrophe and a dwindling water supply.

But as with any challenge, also comes opportunity.

Colorado farm and ranch income has hit its lowest level in 30 years, according University of Colorado Boulder research.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, much of agriculture is suffering in Colorado, which like other parts of the High Plains region is facing low corn, wheat and cattle prices.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

The United States has unseated Germany to become the top producer of hops in the world—thanks in large part to the efforts of Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports, the U.S. has regained the title of world hop leader for the first time in decades. Over the last two years, Colorado has experienced an estimated 166 percent increase in total acres of hops planted. The acreage serves to support the state’s more than 300 craft breweries.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

At one time Colorado was one of the nation’s biggest apple producers, on par with Washington state. Colorado’s apple farmers even won gold medals at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, back in 1904.