Local, state and national political candidates will be asked to dig a little deeper than their usual repertoire of issues to address specific concerns of agriculture producers at a forum Saturday.
Water, a hot-button issue during this campaign season, will be on the top of the list of discussion items at Saturday's political forum sponsored by the Community Agriculture Alliance and Routt County Cattlewomen and Cattlemen associations. But Ag Alliance Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh said questions will arise about concerns regarding country-of-origin labeling for agricultural products, identification issues for animals, the estate tax and tax planning, and health insurance.
The forum will be from 4 to 7 p.m. in Colorado Mountain College's Bogue Hall.
It will be a chance for participants to tell candidates how important agriculture is in Northwest Colorado, Daughenbaugh said.
The organizers sent out more than 400 invitations to agriculture producers from Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Rio Blanco and Grand counties.
Jo Stanko, who has been working since August to book candidates, said it is the first time she can remember a political forum being held exclusively to discuss agricultural issues.
"These forums are a two-way learning street. We, the people in agriculture, learn where they stand on certain issues. And we have an opportunity to educate them on issues that are ours that they may not be aware of," Stanko said.
The forum will not be held in a debate format, Stanko said. Each of the candidates will be able to address the group, and then the forum will be opened for a question and answer session.
U.S. Senate candidate Ken Salazar has committed to the forum. Salazar will be speaking first because of another engagement in Craig. Salazar's opponent, Pete Coors, has not responded to the group's request to come to the forum, Stanko said.
U.S. Representative candidate Greg Walcher will be at the forum. His opponent, John Salazar, is not able to attend but will send a representative.
State Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, will be at the forum, as well as his Democratic challenger, Jay Fetcher.
All the candidates running for Routt County commissioner are expected to be at the forum or to send representatives. District 2 Commissioner Doug Monger and his Republican challenger, Jeff Fry, will attend, as will District 1 Libertarian candidate Mike Kien. District 1 Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who is recovering in Denver from a knee surgery, will send a representative to the forum.
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