The American Farm Bureau Federation is marking its 100th anniversary this year, with a celebration coming this week to La Plata County.
Charly Minkler, president of the La Plata County Farm Bureau, said the national and Colorado farm bureaus were founded in 1919. He wasn’t sure the exact date the La Plata County branch began, but he said it was probably around that time.
“I’m pretty sure it’s been here for most of that 100 years,” he said. “Agriculture was very prominent and important during that time.”
The Farm Bureau is comprised of local community members who typically gather at the county level to talk about policies that affect agriculture. Those policies are often brought to the state or federal level.
“It’s very much an organization where all the members are involved,” Minkler said. “It’s ground up, not top down.”
The Farm Bureau tracks all kinds of policies and issues. Some deal with the direct production of agriculture, such as drafting transportation regulations during harvest. But others can center on lifestyle issues, such as bringing broadband to rural areas or addressing opioid abuse.
Envisioning the next 100 years for the Farm Bureau, Minkler said one of the biggest issues is that the average age of farmers and ranchers is approaching 60 years old, and it’s increasingly difficult to find younger farmers to take their place.
“We’re all concerned about who will be the next generation of people growing our food,” he said. “That’s a big concern.”
The La Plata County Farm Bureau will mark its 100-year anniversary at 6 p.m. Friday at Sky Ute Casino with its annual meeting and dinner.
Speaking at the event is Colorado’s new Department of Agriculture Director and Durango resident Kate Greenberg, who at 31 years old has made addressing the issue of a lack of young farmers one of her highest priorities.
“I hope to bring more energy to agriculture in our state,” Greenberg told The Durango Herald in January. “I have an inherent love of agriculture and a deep respect for people who work the land. In that way, I am carrying on that piece of the legacy that’s been built.”
Minkler said agriculture sometimes isn’t recognized for how important it is in Colorado. For starters, he said it’s the No. 2 industry in the state. And, he said most of Colorado’s beautiful views can be attributed to farm or ranch land.
“In La Plata County, I think we take for granted the open space and wonderful vistas that agriculture provides,” he said. “It provides the landscape we all cherish, and makes Colorado what it is.”
The La Plata County Farm Bureau’s event theme is “Boots and Blossoms.” Tickets are available at Basin Coop or the Farm Bureau Insurance office at 2007 Main Ave., Unit B, and costs $18 for adults and $12 for children.
There will also be a premier of the film “Perspectives on Agriculture,” produced by Will Witt, a national media personality. Witt is expected to be in attendance.