Future of Colorado Agriculture

What are the critical trends in Colorado's food, fiber and green production? Will labor, water or cash be the factor that limits agriculture’s success in the next few years? What role do rural communities play in agriculture's future?

Colorado State University is spearheading an effort to discuss, define and consider the potential paths that Agriculture may take in the next generation. We need your help to highlight the important issues and offer your vision of what lies ahead. Extension specialists with the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics will facilitate the discussion both out in the state and on the internet.

Agricultural sectors are listed on the right-hand side of this web page. Take a look at the agricultural sectors and their respective issues, read the opinion of others, and post your own comments. You can also email comments and suggestions for discussions to futureofcoloradoag@gmail.com .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Competition for Water Resources

In the West, the economic sustainability of farms is tightly woven with water availability. For these farms, irrigation is an important risk reducing input that shelters farm income from drought and boosts crop yields. In addition, irrigation permits farms to produce crops (e.g., corn, alfalfa, onions, sugar beets) that otherwise could not be grown competitively in our semi-arid environment. As irrigation was developed in the West, farms generated important economic activity for rural communities and regional economies.

Irrigated agriculture is a primary water user in the West, but rapid population growth is driving a reallocation of water use. Colorado’s population is projected to increase by roughly 2.8 million residents between the years 2000 and 2030--an increase of about 65 percent. The Arkansas and South Platte Basins, which are already the most highly-populated basins, are projected to receive the most new residents. By the year 2030, the Arkansas and South Platte basins will be home to a combined total of almost 2.4 million additional residents, bringing the total population in these two basins to over 6 million people, making up more than 86 percent of Colorado’s total projected population.

Where will new population find municipal water? Many policymakers agree that voluntary sales of water from farms to cities will be an important source. The Colorado Water Conservation Board's Statewide Water Supply Initiative (2004) predicts the following dry-up of irrigated acres as a result of voluntary water transfers. What impact do you think this will have on irrigated agriculture? What policies might be considered, if any, to help rural and urban water users share resources?


Anonymous said...

The impact that I think the water instability will have on irrigated agriculture will be that alot of small farms will have to sell out. I also think that the farms who are just getting a good start might come to an end soon because of the costs of starting a farm. The big farms might lose some land, but should be able to retain some.

There are so many small farms around Colorado and the United States that we will see a jump in food prices.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Montella on these water issues. I think that there will be a lot of regulations put on water and farmers will be forced to sell their water rights. If this happens i think the price of produce will take a severe jump in price.


Tylerschu said...

I totally 100 and 5% believe montella on this one. The price for water will be too overwhelming for small farmers to keep producing crops! uh oh! we're in trouble lets all move to a rain forest!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Montella and Kali with the water issues. And with Montella with the small farms starting off sooner, might be seeing an end sooner becasue of the prices of the economy today. With the small farms that are going to sell out because of the water.

Nicole Carpenter

jon bivens said...

I agree with montella and everybody else because as water depleates, so will farms that depend on it. that would result in an even more increase in wheat prices.

justin said...

I think that farmers willl be losing a lot of money with this irrigation problem. i totally agree with tyler and montella on this one.

Jaimee said...

I agree with montella and kali also about the water issues. i also believe that farmers will have to give up their water rights. Produce is going to take a big turn and the price will be higher. Montella was right that the small farms will have to deal with the water issues more than the bigger towns. Larger farms might lose land, but for smaller towns it will be harder to start a farm and keep it going.

Lena said...

Water won't be able to go to farms because the people of the population are going to need it. Irrigation will be out of the question by 2030. I don't know how much the state will listen to the little farmers in the middle of nowhere, because they think that they will be able to get that crop somewhere else. The amount of water to be shared after a population growth of 2.8 million will definately decrease. There may not be that much water to go around especially when we don't have enough moisture in the mountains to start with.

Anonymous said...

Jake Taylor

I'm sorry that I am going to have to disagree with most of what was said here, partly because it is too easy to just agree and say that's that, but also because most of what was said is misunderstood and untrue.

First of all, I will agree with part of what Montella said, that some small farms will have to sell out, but if they sell out, it will be to bigger farmers, that ground will not go unused.Meaning that crops will still be raised on that ground. Even if some small farms were dried up, it would have very little effect on the price of food at the grocery store. You have to understand that farmers see somewhere between 9-19% of the money that you spend on food in the store. The majority of the price you pay is for things like advertising, product placement, and shipping costs. That's why NO-AD items are so much less money.

Second, I have to point out what Jon said about wheat prices. First of all, wheat does not take that much water, it is probably the least water using of any major agricultural crop. Secondly, the majority of the wheat grown in eastern Colorado is dryland wheat anyway, so irrigation rights would have no effect on this crop.

Being from Western Nebraska where we are already on water restrictions for irrigation and are still able to raise 175 to 200 bu corn, and corn is one of the highest water using crops. We are in no way in danger of losing farms because of it.

The key to the water issue is proper resource allocation. In the springtime when the rivers are full there is plenty of extra water, but no one to use it all. If Americans truly care about keeping agriculture in America and buying American food products, then we need to find a way to get past the environmental red tape and build some more dams and reservoirs to hold extra water. To make it more appealing, some of them could even be hydroelectric and help with growing energy and pollution concerns.

poroshosk said...

Just like the uncivilized Cheney who shot his "friend" Whittington in his face. Guess Cheney is a third world immigrant too.

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