Don Brown of Yuma named Commissioner of Agriculture

Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs

From The Fort Morgan Times (Marianne Goodland):

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday named Don Brown of Yuma as Commissioner of Agriculture, effective Feb. 17. Brown replaces John Salazar, who retired earlier this month.

Brown, a third-generation farmer in Yuma County, manages his family’s extensive farm operations, which include yearling cattle, irrigated corn and dryland farming. He is active in water conservation, energy development and technology innovation issues within the agricultural industry.

Brown graduated from Yuma High School in 1973. He holds a degree in agriculture from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, and received a vocational agriculture education degree with honors from Colorado State University.

He is active in the National Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, National Corn Growers and the Colorado Corn Growers Association. He has served as president of the Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association and state president of the Future Farmers of America…

As commissioner, Brown will lead the department’s daily operations, direct its 300 employees, and oversee the agency’s seven divisions: Animal Health; Brand Inspection; Colorado State Fair; Conservation Services; Inspection and Consumer Services; Markets; and Plant Industry.

In his first interview following the governor’s announcement, Brown told this reporter that as commissioner he will work to educate the general public about the role agriculture plays in their lives and to encourage young people to pursue agriculture as a career and way of life. “We take pride in providing safe food for everyone,” he said Thursday. But the public doesn’t understand something they haven’t been told about, so his job, and the department’s, is to explain how their food is produced and processed, and that the agriculture industry is interested in everything remaining safe.

He pointed out recent trends that show young people coming back to rural communities, whether to engage in farming or ranching or agribusiness pursuits. “People have to eat, and it becomes our responsibility to feed them. That naturally leads to young people being involved, whether in technology, agribusiness or rural education,” he explained. “We have to keep rural communities healthy.”

Brown also plans to be pro-active on water conservation issues. “We need to make the general public aware that the water we use, we don’t waste,” he said. Being pro-active on water means using it wisely, and most farmers and ranchers try to do that. Brown explained. It doesn’t mean not using it at all…

The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee will be tasked with reviewing Brown’s nomination, and it will be up to Sonnenberg as its chair to marshal the confirmation through the Senate. Sonnenberg indicated he expects the confirmation to go smoothly and quickly.

From The Denver Post (Steve Raabe):

Gov. John Hickenlooper has appointed Yuma County farmer Don Brown as Colorado’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

Brown replaces John Salazar, who retired last month after serving in the role since 2011.

Brown is a business owner and third-generation farmer. He has been active in water conservation, energy development and technology innovation within the agriculture sector.

“Agriculture is a critical sector for our economy, contributing $40 billion and providing nearly 173,000 jobs annually,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Having Don at the helm, we know agriculture across Colorado will continue to grow.”

Brown will lead the department’s daily operations and direct its 300 employees.

“To be able to contribute to the industry which I have so greatly benefited from is incredibly rewarding,” Brown said. “I have lived the life of those who the commissioner is to serve and I am committed to doing all I can to see that the industry continues to grow and that farmers and ranchers have every opportunity to succeed.”

Brown graduated with a degree in agriculture from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, and received a vocational agriculture education degree with honors from Colorado State University.

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