A new team project for Colorado agriculture is under development to take an unprecedented thorough look at the industry in an effort to build on its strengths and expand markets.
The Colorado Agricultural Cluster and Value-Chain Analysis will be a joint effort by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University to map new economic relationships among different farming sectors.
Probing the scope of the industry perhaps more deeply than ever before, the studies – part of the state's Colorado Blueprint program – are an important step toward continued innovation and job growth for agriculture, says Gregory Graff, CSU Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics associate professor.
"With this analysis, we're mapping the data in a new way to help inform the objectives of the Colorado Blueprint," he says. "At a higher level, we're trying to initiate communication across the industry in a way that's ultimately useful to state policy-making."
Gov. John Hickenlooper (cq) unveiled the new program during the Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture in February, saying it will help agriculture become more a "part of the state's economic development effort."
Citing Colorado agriculture for "leading us out of the recession" with its market success and export expansions last year, Hickenlooper lauded the industry for its contribution to the state economy.
The cluster effort is to recognize all of the segments that impact on agriculture to paint a clearer picture of the total size and diversification of agriculture. An accompanying Value-Chain Analysis will probe those linkages in depth.
The Value-Chain effort seeks to view the farming industry from a new perspective, focusing on interconnections that could yield new possibilities.
"We're looking at the structure of economic relationships within the industry," says Graff. With this project, we would like to advance agriculture as a comparative advantage in our state economy, and as a driver of growth.
"The agricultural industry presents growth opportunity for the future."
Results of the Agricultural Value-Chain Analysis, which will draw on previously generated data are expected to surface in late summer. The Colorado Agricultural Project is expected to evolve over the next three years as the industry addresses objectives of the Colorado Blueprint, and as sectors pursue new partnerships, Rennels notes.
Like other clusters within the Blueprint, the Agricultural Cluster will address six core objectives that the state is using as a platform to create a more competitive state economy. Those objectives include:
n Building a business-friendly environment.
n Retaining, growing and recruiting new companies
n Increasing access to capital
n Creating and marketing a stronger Colorado brand
n Educating and training workers for future jobs
n Cultivating innovation and technology
This is the first year the state has recognized agriculture into the cluster project.
"Now is the time for agriculture to join together in a new way, and to form and communicate a shared vision for its future in Colorado," says John Salazar, Colorado Department of Agriculture chief.
For more information about the Cluster and upcoming meetings, contact Rennels at (970) 491-7304, or Tom Lipetzky, CDA Division of Markets director, at (303) 239-4114.
For additional information about the Colorado Blueprint, visit www.colorado.gov/coloradoblueprint.
For more information, see the May issue of Western Farmer-Stockman.