An association representing ranchers and others working in the beef industry has completed a tour across Colorado to connect with members and others.
“It was interesting to hear similarities and differences in obstacles facing ranchers and rural communities as we traveled throughout the state,” said Janie VanWinkle, a Fruita rancher who serves as president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).
“We recognize that our industry is facing some of the greatest opportunities and threats of not only my time, but also of the generations before,” VanWinkle said. “Now more than ever, our industry and rural Colorado need a stalwart voice prepared to represent our needs.”
The CCA usually hosts a summer convention. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, the group opted instead to host small gatherings in 14 locations across the state in what was billed as the Rally for Rural Colorado Tour.
According to the organization, the meetings drew not only local ranchers, but also business owners and managers, elected officials and others. Participants voiced a desire to support rural areas of Colorado and its industries — along with leadership to address issues and opportunities.
The CCA supports the We Are All Colorado proclamation and pledge and efforts connect rural and urban areas of the state.
“Our industry is relying on beef producers to engage with our urban neighbors and tell our story,” said Steve Wooten, a Kim rancher and immediate past president of the CCA. “We know what it will take to make a difference for our communities, and your voices need to be heard to ensure a viable future for the next generations.”
VanWinkle said one of her intentions as CCA president is to foster better connections between ranchers and consumers.
Ranching is a matter of not only providing food, she said, but also promoting economic development.
According to the CCA, Colorado livestock and products account for more than $3.7 billion in annual cash receipts — about 75 percent of that from cattle and calves. Colorado ranks fourth among states in exports of fresh and frozen beef.