Reflecting on 2013, Ag industry groups look back at the last year
Over the last year, Wyoming’s ag industry has seen ups and downs, but by and large, industry interest groups note that the year has been positive.
“This year has been good,” says Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup publisher and Wyoming Public Lands Coalition director. “We’ve seen good cattle prices, lamb prices have rebounded, and overall, there have been a lot of positives.”
In addition, the Wyoming Livestock Roundup celebrated 25 years of the publication in May.
The Wyoming Wool Growers Association also celebrated the hiring of their new Executive Director Amy Hendrickson in November.
While many advancements have been made, there have also been trials, but most recognize the positives.
Coming from 2012, when drought plagued Wyoming, Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Director Jim Magagna says, “From our industry’s perspective, the most monumental part of 2013 has been the cattle market. We have had extremely strong markets that most people have enjoyed.”
Lamb prices have also rebounded, strengthening the position of the lamb industry and enabling producers to regain confidence.
“At the same time, for a majority of the state, a relatively adequate amount of moisture and reasonably good forage were available this summer,” said Magagna.
Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton notes that drought was still a factor for some, but Wyoming’s stored water helped to alleviate the problems that could have resulted.
“It is wonderful that some of our forefathers saw fit to build dams, so we had the ability to store water when we had an overabundance,” Hamilton said. “Last year was a classic example of how that played out.”
Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) Director and CEO Leanne Correll says this year was relatively quiet for livestock issues throughout Wyoming.
“The situation with the elk in the Big Horns and the two seropositive elk in 2012 was on our radar,” she mentions. “Only having one more positive elk this year is a real success story to our surveillance program on the wildlife side.”
In addition, Correll commends livestock producers and livestock markets on their willingness to voluntarily test for brucellosis.
“We’ve had good response from markets in doing voluntary testing to address this situation and retain the marketability of Wyoming’s livestock,” Correll says. “This has been one of the biggest success stories of the year.”
Trichomoniasis also continues to be an issue, but progress toward containing the disease continues.
Correll also marks 2013 as being productive for the organization.
“Some of our really big accomplishments are cleaning up some of the unnecessarily fuzzy things within the agency,” she says. “For the first time in the history of the WLSB, we have administrative bylaws that will guide the agency and the Board.”
She adds that job descriptions have been formulated for the director and state veterinarian, as well, which alleviates additional questions.
“We are also moving forward with our computerization project,” Correll continues. “After decades of working toward having an integrated system, we finally have a signed contract and will be moving forward.”
“We have made strides in working through the agency’s issues and trying to responsive to balancing the needs of our customers with efficiency in the agency,” she adds.
As many agree, the Farm Bill continues to be problematic.
“On a national level, the Farm Bill, or lack thereof, and the uncertainty that surrounds that has been big,” Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton notes. “That also plays in to the issues that livestock producers in South Dakota had this fall.”
American Farm Bureau’s work on the waterways enhancement program impacts agriculture overall, Hamilton adds.
In Wyoming, Magagna notes that positive efforts by the 2013 legislature include increases in bonding for seismic activity and eminent domain law changes were significant.
Conservation efforts have also seen positive efforts during the past year.
“The Pathway to Water Quality project on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds is at the top of the list of projects that wrapped up this year,” comments Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank. “That project is pretty much done, and it was pretty significant for us to wrap up the three-year, $500,000 project this year.”
Frank adds that working with Representative Cynthia Lummis’ office to put the Blueways designation for the Yellowstone River on hold and sending Russ Boardman to Washington, D.C. to testify on the effort were also a fruitful endeavors.
“It was also great to work with the inter-agency team to finally get a candidate conservation agreement with assurances for sage grouse was exciting,” she says.
“It’s been a pretty good year, generally speaking,” Frank says. “We got a lot done and made progress in a lot of areas, despite the challenges politically on the national level.”
Overall, Magagna says, “There are a number of issues we will want to discuss over the course of the next year.”
However, he further notes that good markets and high prices have brought about other unforeseen opportunities.
“During our 2013 Winter Roundup, we saw involvement and participation from more young people in the industry at levels that have been unprecedented in my 15 years with the WSGA,” Magagna comments. “It is exciting to see the next generation getting engaged, and we look forward to 2014.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.