“The first thing is listening” — Kate Greenberg

Colorado’s diverse landscape has a rich natural and agricultural heritage that fuels the economy. Photo: Michael Menefee

From The Montrose Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

“The first thing is listening,” Greenberg said Friday, as Week 1 of her new role drew to a close.

“I’m planning to get out into the field as much as possible to understand what people are up against and to build out our game plan. I see this work as being highly collaborative. It’s my role to bring as many people together as possible to come up with what we need to do down the road.”

Greenberg, appointed by Gov. Jared Polis, oversees the state ag department’s daily operations and its divisions: animal health, brand inspection, Colorado State Fair, conservation services, inspection and consumer services, laboratory services, markets and plant industry.

She is no stranger to the Western Slope and its agri-issues, having served as the western program director for the National Young Farmers Coalition in Durango. Her duties there entailed working with basin roundtables, working on the state’s water plan and Colorado River basin water policy…

“I am excited about Western Slope agriculture. I see so much creativity and perseverance from folks doing it for generations and people coming in now and starting their own businesses…

“With Western Colorado being so rural, and a vast majority of people being on the Front Range and the vast majority of water on the Western Slope, we are going to depend on that creativity to keep agriculture thriving out there and rural agriculture alive.”

[…]

Water is the lifeblood for the entire state and that creates challenges for all producers.

“I think producers know that better than anyone, in terms of how precious water is and how important it is that we find solutions that allow agriculture to continue to thrive in Colorado,” Greenberg said.

Montrose’s upcoming Western Food and Farm Forum helps grow agriculture by connecting producers, indicated Greenberg, who is set to address the conference on Jan. 26. She previously helped organize the annual forum and worked with steering committees.

From The Fence Post (Rachel Gabel):

Greenberg, in her first media interview as commissioner, said she grew up split between Minneapolis and in Minnesota’s farm country near Mankato, before moving to Washington where she began farming, working on small-scale, mixed vegetable operations that direct marketed to consumers. Her day job during that time, she said, involved visiting operations of all sizes and types across the West. She said her work has woven between agriculture and conservation, two worlds she said that are one in the same.

Greenberg has spent the past six years based in Durango, Colo., with the National Young Farmers Coalition, building the organization’s staff and the membership. She traveled throughout the intermountain West, including Colorado, working with farmers and ranchers to help young producers return to the land.

“I worked finding ways, through policy, through business services, and through network building to get more young people out in ag,” she said.

To this end, she said she worked with farmers of all ages on the issue of succession, their options to keep operations in business, and working with the next generation. Her other concentration has been getting elected officials onto farms and ranches to give policymakers a better understanding of the challenges agriculture producers face. She said this is meant to ensure policymakers are making decisions based on practice rather than theory after seeing the boots on the ground. Working to give farmers a seat at the table, she said, is vital for agriculture in Colorado.

“Since coming to Colorado to Durango, I have been serving in the role of advocate for farmers and ranchers, connecting producers with their policymakers and ensuring that we have folks standing up for family ag in Colorado,” she said.

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