DeLancey: Partnership between Wyo business and ag is critical
Casper – “One of my favorite things to talk about is the connection and partnership between agriculture and business,” said Wyoming Business Alliance President Cindy DeLancey.
DeLancey spoke during the Wyoming Wool Growers Association Summer Membership Meeting on July 25 on the importance of agriculture in Wyoming business and opportunities for the Alliance and producers to work together.
As she looks forward to her new leadership role, DeLancey noted she plans to prioritize engagement of the Wyoming Business Alliance with the agricultural community and with trade organizations.
“We’re all going to be working together because it’s going to take all hands on deck to continue to have meaningful conversations and help people understand the connectivity of agriculture and business,” she said.
DeLancey explained the Wyoming Heritage Foundation and Wyoming Business Alliance are “a coalition of business owners, big and small, working to advance Wyoming’s economy and business climate.”
As Wyoming looks to diversify its economy and create a vision for the future, DeLancey stressed it is critical to ensure agriculture is involved in the conversation.
“We’ve been handed a wonderful opportunity in that our Governor sees this as a priority, and that is really where the business community – including agriculture, tourism, extraction and technology – can really help our policy makers and leaders know what is a priority to us and help them help us shape the future of Wyoming,” DeLancey stated.
“Agriculture is the third leg in Wyoming’s three-legged stool of our economy,” said DeLancey. “Producers are small business owners and are the backbone of Wyoming’s economy.”
She noted that many may not see their contribution to Wyoming’s economy as significant.
“Sure, right now, it’s wonderful as we look at attracting companies like Microsoft and others to our state,” stated DeLancey. “Those jobs are incredibly valuable, but so are the ones agriculture creates. Those jobs are very much equally important as those with some of the big-name companies that we’re trying to recruit to our state.”
DeLancey stressed that Wyoming must create and keep a business climate that is conducive to those in agriculture being successful.
She also noted that Wyoming’s economy is largely based on “open space” industries, including agriculture, extraction and tourism.
DeLancey continued, “If we are able to have our cake and eat it, too, as I like to call it, by having that open space economy, as well as a good business climate for people to be successful in, that’s really where I see the value in partnering together.”
DeLancey stressed that agricultural producers and the agricultural industry are “big business.”
“In light of the past election, people are really interested in what’s going on in rural America,” she said. “That voice has tremendous power that perhaps hasn’t been quite as strong in years’ past.”
She encouraged producers to share how the business needs of agricultural operations are similar to other businesses and include topics such as employee management resources, taxes, healthcare and estate and succession planning.
“I really see the Business Alliance focusing, going forward, on some of these fundamental issues that are able to help our small businesses be successful,” commented DeLancey. “I encourage producers to see each other not only as the amazing and strong members of the agricultural industry that they are but as part of that larger group of business voices.”
She continued, “Agriculture is such a sophisticated business, and producers have so much to offer to so many others in the small business community. I think it’s so important that I want to work together to harness this voice in a direction that is very fundamental right now.”
Telling the story of ag
“One of my favorite sayings because it’s so darn true is, ‘If you are not on the table, you are on the menu,’” said DeLancey, noting the agricultural community has been on the menu for a long time.
She noted that now is the time individuals in agriculture be proactive in telling their story.
“We keep our head down, we mind our own business, we work hard and we’re not out there tooting our own horn,” commented DeLancey. “When we don’t tell our story, there’s this big void of information.”
However, when that space is left open, others who are less knowledgeable will step in and tell a story, she said.
“Let’s take that space back and fill that void with true and accurate information,” continued DeLancey. “We need to work together as part of the business community to be able to ramp up, get multiple voices behind ag and be able to tell about ag producers’ successes, as well as their challenges.”
She noted, “We need to leverage the voice of producers as subject matter experts who are on the front line to be able to help us make good policy and help our policy makers, who perhaps come from an urban environment, understand what is happening on our operations every day.”
DeLancey concluded by encouraging producers to take action and build partnerships to tell the story of Wyoming agriculture.
“We have a really interesting moment in time where agricultural voices are louder than ever,” she said. “Let’s seize this moment and work together to be able to position Wyoming for the future.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.