University of Northern Colorado rural economic development summit recap

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FromThe Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

“It’s difficult to differentiate red tape and what is an appropriate regulation,” [Governor] Hickenlooper said in addressing the problem. To do that, he said, he wants to find ways to help business grow while holding the state at the highest level of accountability and ethics. He also wants to assure that the state is pro-business but is also intent on protecting the state’s natural resources…

Vilsack addressed the red tape and regulation complaints by noting the federal government has been given a reality check and that it must become more fiscally responsible and use resources more effectively to “create economic opportunities.” Agriculture, Vilsack said, was the one bright spot in the recession the country is now starting to move out of. He noted that the export of agricultural products is expected to increase again this year after seeing the same from 2010. Those exports, he said, generate jobs. At the same time, the federal government is working to open new foreign markets for agricultural products, noting a new trade agreement being worked out with Korea will help open doors to China. And programs like the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping develop local markets for locally grown food.

During the morning and early afternoon, Hickenlooper’s staff and cabinet members hosted breakout sessions ranging from rural communities and government contracts to hurdles and achievements in energy and from small business success stories to water conflicts between agriculture, municipalities and industry as the state looks at future growth…

Sharing agricultural water with municipal and industrial needs and new water projects were two sessions, directed by John Stulp, the governor’s special adviser on water, drew standing-room-only crowds. Stulp said the fallback of drying up agriculture to meet growth demands, “which is what we’ve been doing for the past 150 years,” is no longer the answer. Finding those answers, however, will not be easy, he said, but there are efforts being made. Some of those will be developing partnerships between municipalities and farmers may be one answer. Jon Monson, director of Greeley’s water and sewer department, said if cities lease water from farmers, they must have a first right on that lease if the farmer decides to sell his water.

Gary Herman of Platteville, who is a board member of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, mentioned another problem with rules and regulations. Central, along with several others, has been working since the 1980s, he said, on the reallocation of Chatfield Reservoir water, which would provide farmers along the South Platte River from Denver to Julesburg with an additional supply of irrigation water.

More Colorado water coverage here.

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