Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Agriculture in Wyoming

 

March 26, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Dept. of Agriculture

Above: Doug Miyamoto, Director, Wyoming Department of Agriculture

The agriculture industry in Wyoming plays a significant role in the success of our state. From the obvious economic benefits it brings to maintaining of the open spaces we all enjoy, agriculture is one of the main things that makes Wyoming great. Agriculture is the third largest industry in the state and directly provides more than 48,000 jobs and billions in economic value in Wyoming. This industry not only provides food and fiber and a substantial direct economic impact in our state, it also sustains rural communities and towns, maintains open spaces, provides habitat for wildlife, facilitates energy growth across our state, and remains a valuable part of our history and culture in Wyoming.

The last year has brought several challenges to the agriculture industry but there have also been numerous successes. Among those successes is the new USMCA trade deal. While it still has not been ratified by Canada, the US and Mexico have ratified the agreement which makes trade with our two biggest trade partners more efficient and beneficial to all parties. This trade deal replaced NAFTA and was a good deal for agriculture in United States and Wyoming. While Wyoming may not be a big exporter, access to these important markets provide more opportunities for our producers and helps increase demand for products which positively impacts the entire agriculture industry. Mexico and Canada are two of the top three markets for agricultural goods from the US and the USMCA creates better markets for everyone in the nation. Along with the USMCA, there have also been positive movements in trade deals with China and Japan that will greatly benefit our agriculture sector in the future.

Another success of our industry came in the form of the finalized 2017 Census of Agriculture. In 2019, the 2017 Census of Agriculture was released and there was some interesting data in the results. Wyoming continues to operate the largest average size farms and ranches in the United States and ranked first among all states in wool production. Along with this, 95% of the farms and ranches in Wyoming continue to be family run organizations and the number of young producers who were 35 or less increased from the previous census in 2012. Most interestingly was that agribusiness and recreation income more than doubled from 2012 and ranked sixth nationwide on the Census. This includes things like hunting and fishing, bed and breakfasts, and other agrotourism efforts. The only states above Wyoming in this respect were states like California with their large wine growing areas. This diversification helped shelter the Wyoming agriculture industry more than other states after the total value of ag products sold decreased from the 2012 Census. While the markets may not have been what we hoped in the recent past, many producers from our state found ways to diversify their operations and help bridge the gap from lower market prices.

Another great success for the agriculture industry in Wyoming has been the incredible support from the leaders at the highest levels of state and federal government. Both state government and our congressional delegation continue to make it clear that agriculture is a priority. Governor Gordon is a strong advocate for our industry and continues to push priorities that positively impact agriculture in Wyoming. Along with this, First Lady Gordon launched the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, whose mission is to help end childhood hunger in Wyoming. As part of this initiative, producers and other volunteers from across the state have stepped up to the plate to help fulfill this mission and combat the challenge of childhood hunger in Wyoming. Finally, our congressional delegation consistently supports farmers and ranchers as well as food security for consumers through their committee work and legislative efforts. Senator Barrasso, Senator Enzi, and Congressman Cheney fight for our industry and our state in Congress and support our efforts through legislation. We have strong advocates for agriculture and we appreciate their efforts for our industry.

While our industry faced challenges this past year with weather, the markets, and other areas, it's important to realize and understand the many successes for our industry. From leaders who care about our industry and push agendas that positively impact agriculture and producers consistently show their determination, business savvy, and perseverance when faced with challenges, it's easy to see why our agriculture industry is strong and have confidence that it will be that way well into the future.

Do You Trust Your Plants?

Wyoming Department of Agriculture

With the warm weather just around the corner, many of us are gearing up for the next growing season. Part of that process includes deciding what you may plant for the upcoming season. To help with that process, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and other regulatory entities help ensure the seeds and live plants you find for sale and distribution in the state meet health and viability standards. Seeds and nursery stock must adhere to federal regulation and most states have programming for additional requirements. The Wyoming Department of Agriculture performs a variety of regulatory inspection programs for agricultural commodities, including the inspection of seeds and nursery stock (live plants) for sale or distribution in the state.

The purpose of such regulatory oversight is to ensure equity in the marketplace with consideration for the both the establishment, producer and end consumer. The Wyoming Nursery Stock Law specifies requirements for individual and establishment vendor licensing, stock shipping and health certification, plant condition, and labeling and identification requirements. The University of Wyoming Seed Analysis Laboratory in Powell tests seed samples for purity, moisture percentage, seed count per pound, germination and viability of the target seeds while monitoring other factors such as the percentage of noxious weed seeds as designated by the Wyoming Seed Law. While much of our plant industry commodity is imported into the state, we are proud to locally grow Ag crop seeds, garden and ornamental variety seeds, seed potatoes, sod, trees, and ornamental and edible crop plants. The Wyoming Department of Agriculture inspects these establishments and issues export paperwork if any items are to be shipped out of the state or internationally.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture field inspectors travel the state and visit plant industry vendors and distributors to take samples, issue health certificates, ensure labeling and packaging requirements, inspect compliance for pesticide use and check for noxious, regulated and declared weeds. Inspectors also respond to federal quarantine requests and maintain in-state quarantine requirements when needed. The inspection process includes internal quarantine and stop-sale for such maladies as injurious insects, disease, and poor commodity viability. This regulatory oversight helps to maintain the native ecosystem, improves the for-sale stock condition and allows a high standard for our seed and live plant commodities.

 

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