In Colorado, the National Young Farmers Coalition is fighting to ensure a future with farmers and ranchers, and a future with land and water on which farmers will continue to grow food, steward resources, and innovate for warmer, drier times.
Colorado is a headwaters state. Snow that falls in the mountains travels across three river basins—the Colorado, Rio Grande, and Mississippi—supplying water for nine interstate water compacts while helping the U.S. meet its treaty requirements for water delivery to Mexico.
In addition, Colorado is popular: its population is expected to double by 2050. This is on top of the impacts of climate change and rapidly increasing development pressure on agricultural land and water. Farmers and ranchers are being squeezed on all sides—including on farmland succession: 64% of Colorado producers will exit farming over the next two decades, and over 20 million acres, or 63% of Colorado’s agricultural land, will need a new farmer. How that land changes hands, who acquires it, and what they do with the land will impact Colorado’s agriculture for generations.
Now is the time for the state to invest in young and beginning farmers and ranchers to protect natural resources for all Colorado residents and downstream neighbors, grow food, and continue the agricultural legacy that is integral to the state.
Colorado Water Plan
The state of Colorado is busy implementing the Colorado Water Plan, which was initiated under executive order by Governor Hickenlooper in 2015. The plan was written by the Colorado Water Conservation Board with input from Colorado residents and entities known as Basin Roundtables—citizen-led water boards that represent the state’s eight major river basins and the Denver metro area. NYFC has worked on the Water Plan since its inception to ensure that it reflects the needs of current and future generations of young farmers and ranchers.
You can help shape Colorado’s water future. Basin Roundtables are a great way to get involved in water decision-making. Want to get involved? Visit the Basin Roundtable homepage to find your BRT’s next meeting, or contact Erin Foster West for more information.