Governor Mead: Wyoming is best-run state in the nation
Cheyenne – “Strength in employment, minerals, tourism, agriculture, small business and financial stability have once again caused Wyoming to be rated as the best-run state in the nation,” said Governor Matt Mead as he opened the 61st Budget Session of the Wyoming State Legislature with the State of the State address.
Mead cited a low unemployment rate, high credit rating and good tax climate, as well as high percentage of high school graduates, low violent crime rates and fiscal conservativeness, as contributing to Wyoming’s success, saying, “The state of the state is strong.”
He also credited the agriculture industry as a driving force behind Wyoming prosperity, saying, “Wyoming has remained strong because we are an agricultural state.”
The role of agriculture
“Agriculture was key in the creation of our state and it remains a part of our heritage, culture and economy,” said Mead. “The well being of our state requires the well being of agriculture.”
Mead emphasized that agriculture is essential for maintaining community economies, beyond simply supporting ag families.
“I admit a bias, but that doesn’t just come from my ag background, but rather from all that ag provides to Wyoming,” Mead commented. “Agriculture supports our two largest industries – minerals and tourism.”
“In Wyoming, there are 11,000 ranches and farms, representing the largest ranch size of anywhere in the U.S.,” he continued. “Those 11,000 ranches and farms equate to open space, clean air, clean water and wildlife habitat.
“They provide allure for tourism, recreation and untold opportunities for energy development. Ag land provides tools against action from the federal government against endangered species. These lands also provide sportsman with unforgettable experiences.”
Mead also addressed concerns in agriculture, noting federal grazing leases, predation and disease concerns, as well as endangered species listings, changing economics and inheritance taxes as creating an uncertain future for the family farms and ranches across the state.
“We need to make sure all options are open for the future of ag,” he added. “We need to make sure agriculture thrives because it is the stage and it is the platform for so many value-added economic opportunities. As Wyoming citizens, it goes far beyond just economics. Ag adds quality to our life experience.”
“Agriculture is important to me, to Wyoming and to our country,” added Mead. “In addition to all the collateral benefits, our country needs the security that comes from being able to feed our citizens.”
Focus on wolves
Mead also asked for support for the proposed wolf management bill, saying, “If we do not move forward, we diminish our states rights.”
“When wolves threaten ag, wildlife and outfitters, it is time to move forward,” continued Mead. “This is an opportunity to achieve balance.”
Mead encouraged the Legislature to take action on the wolf management bill, rather than leaving the issue to the hands of the court system.
“No court decision has led to on-the-ground changes, and time is not on our side,” emphasized Mead. “Every year we fail to manage wolves, the number of wolves increases. I would rather have this body take a proactive approach than hope for the best in the courts.”
He added that, to this point, the only winners in the court system have been the attorneys and the wolves, and with approval from the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as agreement from the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, now is the time to take action.
Additionally, if the plan is approved, Mead said, “I will work with our very able congressional delegation to seek congressional approval for the plan.”
Ag message appreciated
Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Vice President Bryce Reece commended Mead’s State of the State, saying, “I was tremendously impressed and very appreciative of the Governor and his comments about agriculture.”
Reece noted that Mead’s true appreciation for agriculture was apparent, saying, “It’s not just about the dollars and cents, but the intangible kinds of things that agriculture provides to Wyoming that makes our state what it is. The Governor gets it.”
Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna echoed Reece’s comments, saying, “I was particularly impressed with the fact that the Governor was so strong in his support for agriculture and in portraying ag truly for its important role in the state.”
“The emphasis that Governor Mead has on agriculture in that address was unusual for us,” commented Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton. “He was very appreciative of the role that agriculture plays.”
Hamilton added that, in past State of the State addresses he’s listened to, ag was rarely, if ever mentioned.
Reece concurred, saying, “Governor Mead spoke more about agriculture in his one address than in the last eight State of the States combined.”
“I think Wyoming agriculture is going to make huge strides in into the future,” added Reece. “I don’t how we wouldn’t with the kind of leadership we have at the very top.”
“We are small in numbers, but big in accomplishment,” said Mead. “We must strive to meet all the needs of tomorrow.”
For the upcoming session and year, Mead concluded, “We will produce a balanced budget. We must make certain that every child, family and business is managing the best and doing the best. Working together, I know that Wyoming can continue to be the best – in title and reality.”
To listen to the State of the State address, open the archived audio from Feb. 13, House AM at legisweb.state.wy.us under audio broadcasts. Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.
Energy and tourism mark top industries
“Wyoming is an energy state,” said Governor Matt Mead in his State of the State address on Feb. 13.
Along with agriculture, Mead emphasized that Wyoming is the number one exporter of BTUs (British thermal units) in the country. He continued that minerals directly and indirectly contribute to 80 percent of state revenues, making energy central to the health of Wyoming’s economy.
“We must seek longevity and maximize the benefits of production,” he added.
For tourism, Mead marked record 2011 revenue from the industry, saying, “We have world class views, recreation and hunting. Such assets make Wyoming a great tourist destination.”
Education was another top priority that Mead addressed, saying, “All of our kids need a top notch K through 12 education that prepares them, and we need more rigorous standards.”
“I worry much less about setting the bar too high and worry about setting it too low,” continued Mead. “Nothing but the best education will do.”