Community Agriculture Alliance: An old beginning with a new twist

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Agriculture is nothing if not consistent. Against all odds, agricultural producers continue to provide food, fiber, products and services for the region, country and world. Despite the loss of agriculture acreages, more food is grown today than at any time in history. Higher prices for equipment and fuel force farmers to tighten their belts. When there is greater demand for lands previously used for grazing, ranchers find alternative areas for their cattle and sheep. When government regulations continue to encroach on business decisions, ag folks step up their research. The list of adversities is long. It always has been.

My grandfather talked about starving during the Nebraska Dust Bowl before moving his family of five kids to Steamboat in November 1939. I remember my parents’ despair when it was time to buy a new baler because there simply wasn’t the money to invest. I personally know of the deep anguish when cattle prices dropped overnight and the bank loan was due in a month. And I listen to my kids discuss future expenses against potential incomes. Four generations in one small family wanting to stay in agriculture against all odds because they love the lifestyle.

Now we are in 2013. A new year poses new problems, but we have the same desire to be productive, display good values, respect our natural resources and honor our heritage. Agriculture remains consistent.

In the same manner, the Community Agriculture Alliance is facing challenges. We are struggling to meet the expenses of our nonprofit group. But at the same time, the demand for producer-consumer enhancement and promotion within our community is huge. Our desire to provide education about the critical importance of agriculture is powerful. The need for us to serve as an agriculture resource connection continues to grow.

Since October 2012, the directors, advisers and staff of the Ag Alliance have been evaluating the future of the organization. They agree that we are important to the future of Northwest Colorado and that they want to be part of the discussions that impact regional agriculture. Strategic work sessions have become the norm to discuss financial stability, organizational clarity, board development and public relations. Because of the diverse backgrounds and interests of the board members, we are able to put a variety of issues and suggestions on the table. And in the typical manner of people who respect agriculture, we are finding answers to the difficult questions.

We elected officers during our January board meeting. Leading the Community Agriculture Alliance’s Executive Committee during 2013 will be Carol Atha and Greg Brown (co-chairs), Brett Mason (past chair), Dan Bell (secretary), Medora Fralick (treasurer), Barry Castagnasso, Erika Murphy and Brian Smith (members at large). They are supported by directors Chris Bradley, Diane Holly, Kathy Smith, Regina Wendler, Deb Werner, Wayne Shoemaker and advisers Adonna Allen, Tammie Delaney, Vonnie Frentress, Rod Hanna, Carl Herold, Pete Kurtz, Ren Martyn, Nancy Merrill, Andy Schaffner, Nancy Stahoviak and Rich Tremaine.

We continue to welcome your opinions and thoughts. Stop by the Community Agriculture Alliance office at 141 Ninth St. in Steamboat, call us at 970-879-4370 or visit our website at www.communityagalliance.org.

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