Barlow announces farewell
Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives Rep. Eric Barlow (R-Gillette) will not be seeking re-election to the House of Representatives at the end of his term.
Barlow has served the chamber since 2013, serving as House Majority Floor Leader from 2019 to 2020 and has held the top rank as House Speaker since 2021.
Before the House
Barlow was raised on a fourth-generation ranch in northeast Wyoming, where he currently raises cattle, sheep and yaks. He feels grateful for his roots in agriculture and the opportunity to raise his kids on the ranch.
“I am fortunate to be able to continue this heritage,” he notes.
Aside from ranching, Barlow also worked as a veterinarian in the past. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University and took an interest in large animal veterinarian practice, mainly focusing on cattle and sheep.
Barlow’s veterinarian background and his interest in issues within the industry is what led him to serve on the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB), he says.
Barlow mentions he served on the WLSB for six years before being elected into the House. He was introduced to state policy in agriculture at a more in-depth level during this time.
“Before serving on the WLSB, I was interested in private property rights and ag elsewhere in my community, so I was involved and interested in ag policy 30 years ago,” he says.
Barlow continued practicing with his veterinarian license during his first seven years in legislature.
“My duties in legislature eventually became too much, I had to give up my vet practice to stay in legislature,” he says.
Barlow says his goal in legislation has always been to make an incremental difference in whatever policy he’s facing.
“I try to make someone’s ideas better, and if I can’t make them better, I find another way to approach the challenge,” he adds.
Barlow notes he had a goal to expand agriculture in Wyoming. He was able to do this by supporting the HB0171 Bill Gov. Gordon signed March 6, 2019.
This allowed for hemp production and processing in Wyoming under the regulation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Hopefully this has and will continue to give opportunities to Wyoming producers in ag,” he says.
Although Barlow has a deep interest in agriculture policy, he notes a person can’t focus on one sole topic alone when they enter into the legislature, they have to possess knowledge on a variety of different issues.
“When I went into legislature, I didn’t know much about human health care, and I ended up spending eight years working on the Labor Health and Social Services Committee,” he says. “I became knowledgeable about some of the challenges we have in our healthcare system in Wyoming and hopefully made contributions to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for Wyomingites.”
Barlow mentions there’s a tradition in the House where once a representative becomes the presiding officer, they don’t seek re-election to the same body in the House.
“My decision is partially tradition and partially a realization – I think I’ve been able to be effective and hopefully made positive contributions,” he says. “It’s time to move on and let other folks step into these roles and continue the work.”
Barlow plans on returning to his roots – the ranch – once his term is over.
“It’s time to go home and help out with the chores and work with my wife who has been doing it for the past 10 years,” he says. “There may be another opportunity for office or some other way to serve down the road, but for now I’m going to go back to the ranch.”
Though Barlow won’t be in office, he plans to continue being involved with his community and continue advocating for the industry. For now, Barlow will continue his work in the House until his term is officially over.
“I go to the first of the year, so there’s term work still ahead of us,” he says. “I will continue to be involved with this work and do my best until the end, and then we will see what comes after that.”
“It’s been a privilege and a humbling experience to serve Wyoming,” Barlow concludes.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.