Colorado Water 2012: Lee Hancock — ‘Farming and ranching is the second-largest contributor to our state’s economy’

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Here’s the latest in The Pueblo Chieftain’s Water 2012 series. Here’s an excerpt:

Farming and ranching is the second-largest contributor to our state’s economy. Most people just don’t realize that our rural communities are directly dependent on agriculture. At the turn of the century, our towns sprung up to support the emerging agricultural industry. As the agricultural industry grew, so did its supporting communities. Before long, the interdependency between local agriculture and its local community became so strong that if either failed, both would fail. This has proven especially true in Southeastern Colorado.

Agriculture is mostly made up of ranching, dry-land farming and irrigated land. It is the irrigated agriculture and the perennial supply of irrigation water that allows farmers in the Lower Arkansas Valley to grow the crops for our food supply. The sale of these commodities such as corn, sorghum, wheat, alfalfa, onions, cantaloupes, watermelons, tomatoes, chiles and a slew of other crops bring millions of dollars into our rural communities annually. Water, especially irrigation water, has created wealth in private land and water rights ownership. Irrigated farmland is valued considerably higher because of the water and its production potential.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

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