Now is the time to look at local consumption. The Colorado Department of Agriculture hosts the Colorado Proud Program, a label and logo that makes it easy for consumers to identify Colorado products, meats, grains, and value-added food products with Colorado ingredients. While August is Colorado Pride Month, September brings even more local farm produce.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know why; Colorado agriculture benefits from your purchases through farm income and maintaining market share among wholesale and retail buyers. Consumers send signals to the entire supply chain, and the more you buy, the more it enters the supply chain. This equates to more income for Colorado farms and ranches.
Second, you reap the benefits of a complete diet. If you buy Colorado farm products, you are probably not buying large volumes of processed foods. Find easy recipes to prepare and cook at home, your health improves and you feel better with fresh foods.
And more and more, Colorado chefs are purchasing Colorado agricultural produce and incorporating them into seasonal menus. We all need variety in our diets. Your frequentation at restaurants offering these special dishes creates benefits for you and the upstream supply chain.
Farmers in the counties of the Tri-River region (Mesa, Delta and Montrose) are in particular need of your support. Suffering the triple whammy of drought, low snowfall (little or no irrigation water for 2021), and Interstate 70 closures, creating increased marketing costs or lost sales altogether, it doesn’t. has never been more important to buy Colorado peaches, onions, sweet corn, beef, etc …
In this era of COVID-19, we see clear examples of the connectivity of local, regional and global supply chains. With microchips delaying car production, the labor supply defying local retailers, and the bewildering race for toilet paper at the start of the pandemic, our economies rely on low-cost inputs (materials, labor). work, etc.) and are more fragile than they appear. .
Farmers and ranchers are also affected by these supply chain challenges for agricultural inputs – seeds, machinery, pieces of equipment, etc. – but also with the logistics of trucking for the transport of products from the farm to the market. The closure of I-70 first hit some growers with the ability to haul produce in farm-owned trucks to Front Range markets, driving up costs due to detours south and north of I-70. Then, for some farms, the trucking companies that transport the products to distribution points east of the Continental Divide would not be heading west to the Tri-River area due to the detours around. I-70. By some estimates, these farms have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.
Like supply chain disruptions, labor markets are also extremely thin for farmers and ranchers. While farmers and ranchers have the option to contract with international H-2A workers, provided that the agricultural employer has the capacity to provide housing for H-2A workers, for those who cannot meet to this requirement of the H-2A program or for those who need to be English speakers. workers for direct-to-consumer sales staff, local workers available and willing to work on farms and ranches are non-existent in many areas of Colorado.
Ultimately, farmers and ranchers need your support, and the first way to do that is to buy their produce. Whether we recognize it or not, we value what we pay for, which means dollar purchases are most often attributed to the items we value the most. There are so many great reasons to research and buy Colorado farm products. Your health and the health of the agricultural economy are among these reasons.
Adrian Card is the Agricultural Extension Officer at Colorado State University in Boulder County.
Don’t miss the best of the harvest season. Find Colorado produce at retailers, restaurants, farm stalls and farmers markets near you. For a full crop season schedule, visit coloradoproduce.org and click on the nutrition and health page under the consumers and buyers tab. And to find direct-to-consumer buying options, search the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Farm Fresh Directory.