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By Cindy Garretson-Weibel, Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Director

On any given day, the staff at the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) can be working with an agricultural producer to discuss local marketing opportunities, and then a few minutes later, we can be assisting a value-added food producer investigate an export market. As the agricultural marketing arm for the state of Wyoming, the WBC has the ability to work with agricultural producers and food companies of any size and scale to expand their marketing efforts.

With an increased interest by consumers to know where their food comes from, opportunities for farmers and ranchers to direct market their agricultural products are increasing.  About eight percent of farms in the U.S. market their ag products direct to consumers through local food marketing channels including farmers' markets, community supported agriculture and roadside stands. Many farms also market directly to restaurants and institutions.

Probably the most prevalent venue for Wyoming farmers and ranchers to direct market their product is at a local farmers 'market. The number of farmers' markets in Wyoming has more than tripled the last 10 years, with over 40 markets operating in the state currently. In Wyoming some of the farmers' markets start as early as June, and most run through October, with a few winter farmers' markets offering products almost year-round.

The economic contribution that farmers' markets have on the state is phenomenal. Based on responses the Wyoming Business Council collected from market managers, run through an economic impact model by the University of Wyoming, farmers' markets throughout Wyoming contributed more than $2.8 million to the state’s economy. The direct sales of approximately $2.1 million generated secondary sales of more than $654,000. Farmers' markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity, largely due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm. 

In addition to providing fresh local products, farmers' markets are social events and a weekly gathering place for friends and neighbors. A wide variety of items are offered at the markets. In addition to fresh produce and fruit, meat and eggs are available, as well as processed foods, such as honey, jams, jellies and sauces. Wyoming truly has some amazing products that are often showcased at these local venues.

Selling direct to restaurants and institutions is a viable option for Wyoming producers, and Wyoming has seen an increased interest in Farm to School programs, with meat and produce being sold from Wyoming farmers directly to the schools.

For many agricultural producers, international marketing can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The WBC and its partners can offer assistance to help determine if it makes sense for companies to expand into the global arena.

One-third to one-half of U.S. exporters are new each year. Sellers who survive the first year have a much greater chance of surviving into subsequent years. Small, young firms that enter the global marketplace account for a large share of total exports. We can assist you to find the current trends in the industry, market size of the industry, and potential global markets.

The WBC also participates in several trade missions to increase exposure of Wyoming agricultural products and consumer goods.  Several of these missions for value-added food and livestock genetics occur with our Northern neighbor. Canada is the number one trading partner in the U.S. and provides some good opportunities for first-time companies interested in global marketing. Nonetheless, entry into a global market has to be with the right product fit.
Wyoming companies may also be eligible to receive trade show assistance through the WBC’s trade show incentive program. Eligible companies can apply to receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of approved expenses to attend a show. These expenses could include event fees, booth fees, transportation and pre-approved event-specific marketing materials.
Often times, buyers are interested in testing your product, so it is not uncommon to see orders placed from 100 to 1,000 pieces. This is a great opportunity for you to break into a global market and for your buyer to test your product.
Many marketing opportunities are available for Wyoming producers, and the WBC is glad to assist producers in their marketing efforts. Whether your interest lies in selling produce direct to the consumer, marketing bred heifers or international food marketing, don’t hesitate to give me a call to further discuss your particular area of interest. I will point you to the WBC staff member who can assist you in determining a marketing alternative for your agricultural operation.

Cindy Garretson-Weibel is the agribusiness director at the Wyoming Business Council and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 307-777-6589.

By Robert Weidler, Wyoming Department of Agriculture

Several divisions comprise the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA). Technical Services (TS) is among these. TS is responsible for a wide variety of programs, but one that benefits all Wyoming producers and consumers is Weights and Measures.

Weights and Measures inspectors throughout the state inspect and test a wide variety of devices for accurate performance and compliance to specific standards. These inspectors use equipment that has been calibrated to accuracy levels of approximately 0.01 percent. An example of this is a 1000-pound test weight used during livestock scale inspection. The test weights used are calibrated for accuracy of plus or minus 0.1 of a pound.

To keep test equipment in good working order and ensure accuracy levels are maintained, TS is equipped with its own metrology laboratory. Metrology is the science of measurement, and the lab, located in Cheyenne, offers mass and volumetric calibration services for all WDA inspectors. In addition, the lab offers the same service for industry technicians that install and repair weighing and measuring devices. To ensure the laboratory is providing credible measurements it maintains recognition – a form of accreditation – from the United State Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The process of securing recognition is quite rigorous and the lab participates in proficiency testing throughout the year. Additionally, the lab submits an annual application packet to NIST for evidence of quality control and proper procedure.

The WDA Weights and Measures Lab has worked hard in recent years to expand its scope of accreditation to meet the needs of customers. Workload for the year 2014 increased for all calibrations. The lab performed a total of about 1,465 calibrations in 2014. This is the highest number performed and is a significant increase over any previous year.

The majority of the workload, about 96 percent, is mass calibration and weights ranging from 0.001 pounds, or small scale inspection, to 3,000 pound, or coal mine hopper weights. Including calibration of railroad test cars, the lab calibrated somewhere in the neighborhood of several million pounds of test weights. Volume workload makes up the remaining four percent and refined fuel volumetric provers from five-gallon gas pump inspection to 1,000-gallon refinery loading rack inspection were calibrated. Additionally, the volumetric workload includes calibration of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) provers from 25 gallon propane bottle dispenser inspection to 100 gallon propane delivery truck inspection.

Since obtaining recognition by the NIST in 2009, the lab has worked to expand its scope and offer additional calibration services. This has resulted in a wider variety of calibration services for industry technicians. Approximately 70 percent of lab customers are private technicians that work to repair and calibrate weighing and measuring devices. The remaining 30 percent is the WDA TS inspection staff.

In addition to serving technicians that reside in Wyoming, the lab is becoming a regional presence. During 2014, calibrations for technicians from Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska and Utah were performed. Many of these technicians serve customers in Wyoming and come to the WDA lab because it offers services that are not available in their state.

The largest increase in calibration type includes items that have been added to the lab’s scope in recent years. Major increases in 2014 include LPG prover calibration, which increased 120 percent, large mass used in the mining industry, up 100 percent and motorized test carts used for livestock and vehicle scale inspection, which were also up 100 percent.

Using accurate and traceable test equipment while inspecting or repairing weights and measures devices is critical. Maintaining NIST recognition requires considerable effort. The WDA Weights and Measures Lab is an active participant with NIST and looks to offer additional calibration services each year. By ensuring that quality measurements are issued when test equipment is calibrated, producers and consumers in Wyoming can have confidence in the WDA Weights and Measures Inspection Program.

By Doug Miyamoto, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director

Agriculture in Wyoming is strong. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, Wyoming was one of the few states that added agricultural lands and ranked first in average size of farm and ranch in the country. We not only contribute more than a billion dollars to the state economy, we do this while preserving the open spaces, culture and heritage that make Wyoming great.

I am honored to be the new director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and proud to have the chance to build on the positive momentum of agriculture in our state and continue building opportunities for our industry. Agriculture faces many challenges, but this industry is up to the task.

As part of this, I hope to emphasize the reality to a larger audience that agriculture is one of our best tools for improving our symbiotic relationship with the environment. Producers in Wyoming are stewards of the land and protect it in ways that are beneficial for everyone in the state. It’s time more people understood that agriculture not only works on the land, it sustains it and preserves it for future generations while providing habitat for wildlife and other uses.

Along with this, it’s vital to remember that there is great value in the traditional agriculture practiced in Wyoming. Without agriculture, we lose a lot of what makes Wyoming great. We lose the open spaces we love, stewards of the land who care for it, and valuable income to Wyoming, as well as things that are not easily quantified like the culture and heritage of our great state. Along with supporting traditional agriculture, it’s also important to continue the advancement of innovations and technology in agriculture. Tradition and innovation can and do live together in Wyoming to provide value to the state that is unmatched by any industry. Maintaining these traditional values along with innovation is important. These values not only benefit the agriculture industry, but society as a whole.

While the agriculture industry provides several significant values to our state, the most precious are its people.  They are a hard working, honest and value-driven group who strive to provide quality products for their family, community, state, nation and people around the world. The people from the agriculture industry can be and are ambassadors for this way of life. Reaching out to those who don’t know about or understand agriculture is imperative.

While I hope younger generations that want to return to the ranch or farm will have the opportunity if they choose, their agricultural backgrounds will still serve them well moving forward if they have other interests. We can always benefit from more Wyoming ranch kids occupying important positions regardless of what career they chose. They can be the connection to agriculture for a multitude of people outside the industry. While there are many worthwhile professions within agriculture that can be explored, there are other opportunities to spread the positives of agriculture around the state and country. Along with this, there is room in the agriculture industry for those with no agricultural background. They can provide fresh perspectives and ideas to help move the industry forward. We all depend on a thriving agricultural system in our state and country.

As director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, I will work hard to continue moving the department in a positive direction for agriculture. We will work hard on making sure agriculture thrives in Wyoming and Wyoming consumers understand the value we provide. It’s a great industry, and I am proud to be a part of it.

By Chris Jesse, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Senior Lab Scientist

For most livestock producers in Wyoming, the cost of purchasing or harvesting feed for livestock represents one of the largest annual operating costs. Feed quality varies widely for a variety of reasons so producers must maintain an optimum balance between feed costs and production. 

One of the best ways to strike this balance is to have a laboratory analyze the forage/hay feedstuffs and use the results to formulate rations and/or any supplement needs for the livestock. 

Interpretation of laboratory results may seem complicated but is made easier if you remember the following basics. For forage/hay feedstuffs, the items of primary interest are protein, fiber and total digestible nutrients (TDN) content. Each of these items carries its own significance in the overall forage picture.


Laboratories measure forage protein as crude protein. Crude protein is derived from the total nitrogen content of a feedstuff and is labeled as “crude” because the result combines both true protein and any non-protein nitrogen present. Crude protein is a simple estimate of the actual protein value.

Protein content depends not only on the type of feed or forage being fed but also the quality of that specific feed or forage. 

Harvested forages such as grass hay, alfalfa, oat hay, etc. can have drastically different protein contents, even from different parts of the same field. Factors such as types of grasses present, maturity and stress affect protein and probably all other qualities of the forage. 

In legumes, such as alfalfa or oats, protein may be the principal reason that forage is being fed. Protein requirements for animals vary significantly with factors such as type of animal being fed, body weight, growth state, season and desired gains. Growing, gaining or lactating animals require more protein than simply maintaining animals. 


Fiber represents the portion of a forage cell structure or cell wall components that cannot be digested by the animal. Because fiber analysis approximates the non-digestible portion of the forage being fed, it plays a large factor in the overall quality of that feed. 

ADF, or acid detergent fiber, is the most commonly reported fiber analysis in forages. ADF uses an acidic detergent to dissolve all but the toughest fractions of the forage cell structure, thereby approximating the digestibility of the forage in an animal’s stomach. The remaining fiber is the main content of the plant cell wall that can’t be digested. 

Generally the higher the fiber, the lower the nutritional value and overall quality of the forage. 

Another factor to consider is that as insoluble fiber content increases, the animal’s ability to consume the forage is affected. Forages with higher fiber content will result in lowered intake by the animal as digestibility decreases and the forage remains in the digestive tract longer. The animal will likely eat less before it feels full, and all these factors, in turn, decrease the animal’s productivity. 

These facts emphasize the important effects of the forage cell wall composition on overall animal performance. Non-ruminant animals such as horses can compensate for poorer quality forage by eating more, as it passes through the digestive tract faster. But ruminants like beef, sheep and goats cannot alter intake to compensate for poorer quality forages. 

Neutral Detergent Fiber, or NDF, is an analysis performed to determine the overall part of the forage material that is insoluble in a neutral, or non-acidic detergent. 

Again, the higher the NDF, the less the animal will eat. Because of this, NDF can also be instrumental in determining rations. 

NDF usually increases with advancing maturity of the forage. For the producer, this means striking a balance between forage quality and the overall amount of forage harvested by cutting the hay at an appropriate maturity.

Some producers mistakenly use only protein as the indicator of forage quality. While protein is an important nutrient component, fiber is equally important. 

Total digestible nutrients

TDN represents the sum of the digestible fiber, protein, lipid and carbohydrate components of a feedstuff. TDN is often calculated from the ADF content of a forage. The higher the ADF content of a forage, the lower the TDN value will be, again illustrating the importance of the fiber content in the forage. 

The TDN value, in conjunction with protein and ADF, is instrumental in determining overall quality and rations of the forage material when making feeding recommendations. TDN is primarily useful for determination of beef cow rations when feeding primarily forage.

Relative feed value

Some individuals raising or buying alfalfa and sometimes other forages, use a tool called Relative Feed Value (RFV). This is simply a calculation using ADF and NDF values to provide a prediction of feeding value for the forage tested. 

RFV is used primarily to evaluate or compare alfalfa quality when buying or selling the hay. It provides the producer or buyer with a simple means of comparing the performance potential any given forage has with other available like forages. 

RFV in forages varies greatly but again is solely related to fiber content and may be affected by factors such as variety and genetics, maturity at time of harvest and stress. RFV is meant only to be used for comparison and should not be used by itself to determine feeding rations. 

For more information on forage testing, contact the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.