About 30 farmers and ranchers gathered at Jerry & Tricia Hergenreder’s farm, Longmont, Colo., in September to discuss the farm crisis with Rep. Mark Udall.
Hergenreder’s rhetorical question pinpointed the problem of many farmers on the Front Range where suburban sprawl is alive and well: What incentive exists for farmers when they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars on devlopment but not even $200 on their crop?
Udall answered he is interested in relieving farmers of the open space tax and said he does not want developments to push farmers out « of business.
Participants made numerous valuable points:
• Charles Klaseen, chairman of the RMFU board, pointed out that he pays his hired help 10-times what they make in Mexico. He can’t find local workers. The result is wages go back to Mexico and then we import our food from them. “It’s going to break America,” said Klassen.
• Tom Lauridson, a wheat farmer from Adams county said, “We have 50 to 60 farm programs encouraging us to over-produce.”
• Kathleen Kelley, Meeker, Colo., urged Udall to get involved with changing policies on imports. She said farmers are losing $150 – $200 a head in cattle because of imports.
• Hegenreder asked, “Why are pork chops still $3 a pound in the store when producers are practically giving them away?”
Udall ended, “I am committed to finding better ways for those in agriculture to continue their livelihoods.”