Rep. Lewis sponsors second Eastern Colorado Agriculture Tour

Rep. Kimmi Lewis, Colorado House District 64 and Colorado Land, Water & Food Alliance, sponsored a second Eastern Colorado Agriculture Tour, on June 1.

This year seven current and one former legislator participated along with other guests representing organizations involved in agriculture or invested in legislative activities. Initial participants met at the Country Pride Restaurant, TA Travel Center in Limon, Colorado. 

Gathered there were Rep. Susan Beckman, District 38, Littleton, Rep. Cathy Kipp, District 52, Fort Collins, Rep. Kerry Tipper, District 28, Lakewood, Rep. Brianna Titone, District 27, Arvada, and Sen. Joann Ginal, District 14, Fort Collins. Lori Greenstone and Roland Halpern representing Colorado Voters for Animals also attended. 

The first eastern Colorado Agriculture tour sponsored by Rep. Lewis took place in fall 2017.

Gerald Schreiber, president of R-CALF USA, gave a brief history of the country of origin labeling and why it was so important to American beef producers and consumers to know where packaged meat was raised, finished and processed. Nick Levendofsky, director of external affairs for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union gave an overview of issues concerning the farming and ranching community.

Alan Gentz, Sterling, Colorado, gave an overview of his farming and ranching activities, recalling feed distribution to various localities as far down as Ordway and Rocky Ford, Colorado.

From Limon, the tour headed south on Highway 71 to Cheraw, Otero County and Froese Farms and Colorado Seeds, Inc. Joining the tour at Colorado Seeds were Rep. Lewis and Rep. Bri Buentello, HD 47. Dave and Jacob Froese presented an overview of their seed production for watermelons, pumpkins, and cantaloupes. 

Colorado Seeds distributes worldwide producing varieties to specific localities, such as Spain and Australia where watermelons do well in those dry climates. Jacob Froese explained how hybrid seeds are produced to grow seedless watermelons. Participants toured the greenhouse house where specific varieties are produced in controlled conditions. Three to five years are required before a genetically different variety can be ready for distribution. 

By mid-afternoon the tour arrived at Rep. Lewis’ Muddy Valley Ranch. Doc Jones, La Junta, brought his draft team and wagon for the benefit of participants to take a short ride around Muddy Valley Ranch. Lewis welcomed the participants to Muddy Valley Ranch and introduced Mac Louden, president of the Colorado Land, Water and Food Alliance and also a former Las Animas county commissioner. Louden expressed hope that such tours would improve communication and understanding between urban and rural communities.

Julie Sumpter, Parker, gave a brief history of Muddy Valley Ranch and described how the blizzard in spring 1957 prompted her father, Kenneth Clark, to buy a ranch with better protection for his livestock.

Harold Unwin, Pritchett, vice president of the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, gave an overview of beef production methods. He explained that grain fed beef do not acquire glutens through grain consumption and that grass fed beef take longer to finish than grain fed.

Korry Lewis, Johnstown, a member of the Colorado Land Water and Food Alliance Board, explained the legislative history behind House Bill 19-1078, National Register Land Owner Consent bill.

The tour concluded with some participants staying overnight in the Muddy Valley Ranch bunkhouse, while others stayed overnight in La Junta and returned to Muddy Valley in the morning for breakfast.