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Wyo Sen. Barrasso receives Golden Plow Award from American Farm Bureau Federation

Written by Rebecca Colnar

As a doctor by trade, people might think that Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) would know a lot about health care issues but not so much about agriculture. However, Wyoming residents are fortunate to have a Senator who understands critical agricultural issues and works closely with the state’s agricultural organizations, according to many in the ag industry.

“As a doctor who has practiced medicine in Wyoming for more than 25 years, I’ve been able to talk to and listen to the concerns of multiple Wyoming farming and ranching families,” explained Barrasso. “I have a lot of experience treating families from agriculture backgrounds and the different injuries they have due to the physically demanding aspect of working on the farm.”

He continued, “In addition, I’ve also had the privilege of serving as a doctor for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. That was a very rewarding and unique experience.”

The Senator does such an admirable job that he recently received the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Gold Plow Award during the association’s annual Advocacy Conference. The Golden Plow is the highest honor the organization gives to members of Congress. 

AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal presented Sen. Barrasso with AFBF’s Golden Plow award at the association’s annual Advocacy Conference. 

“We are privileged to have with us a very deserving leader to receive this award,” said VanderWal. “We greatly appreciate his superior commitment to and leadership on behalf of U.S. agriculture and in support of Farm Bureau grassroots policy.”

Wyoming support

Wyoming Farm Bureau endorsed Barrasso for the award because of his commitment in Congress to issues important to farmers and ranchers.

“We were extremely pleased that Sen. Barrasso received the AFBF Golden Plow Award,” said Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton. “What makes it so nice is that Sen. Barrasso is on the same page as Farm Bureau without anyone having to convince him of our position.”

Hamilton continued, “We’ve been fortunate in Wyoming to have Congressional delegates who share many of our policy positions, and Sen. Barrasso is no exception. His efforts to overturn the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, his efforts to overturn the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) and a number of other issues that impact our folks certainly made him deserving of this award.”

Todd Fornstrom, Wyoming Farm Bureau president, said Sen. Barrasso is accessible and great to work with on agricultural and rural issues.

He commented, “He represents the people in Wyoming well. There was no question that he was the perfect candidates for the Golden Plow Award.”

Hamilton added that the Senator’s interest in agriculture’s issues have been apparent in his outreach.

“This isn’t just something he’s done recently, though. One of the things I conveyed to AFBF was that when Sen. Barrasso was serving in the Wyoming Senate, he always reached out to us and others in agriculture to see what issues we had that he as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee could help with,” he said.

Working with ag

Working with Farm Bureau has been important to Barrasso, too.

“From my time in the Wyoming State Legislature, Wyoming Farm Bureau has always been a tremendous resource for me in gathering information to make decisions about agricultural issues,” Barrasso said. “I have fond memories of working with past Farm Bureau leaders including Perry Livingston, Larry Bourret, Mark Marquardt and Karen Henry.”

He continued, “Now I look to Ken Hamilton, Todd Fornstrom and Brett Moline, who do a great job representing the Wyoming members. Cole Coxbill has also been a great advocate for Wyoming-specific issues. Leaders of Wyoming agriculture are highly respected in Washington because they are so involved and so dedicated to commonsense solutions to problems across the country. No matter when we call, members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau are always there to provide their expertise.”

Agriculture importance

For Barrasso, helping farmers and ranchers is all in a day’s work.

“I consistently hear that the biggest obstacles facing our farming and ranching communities are the rules and regulations coming out of Washington,” he explained. “Wyoming and our nation’s ranchers should be focused on running their operations – not dealing with bureaucratic red tape. I will continue to work on repealing regulations that do more harm than good.”

Certainly, he also understand agriculture’s role in rural communities.

“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are the ones who produce the safe, high-quality food and fiber we all rely on. In Wyoming, the agriculture industry has a long and proud history. We know that if agriculture is strong, so are our western communities,” said Barrasso, adding, “One of my favorite events to attend every year is the Centennial Farm and Ranch Awards. It is not an easy task to remain in business for a century when Mother Nature continues to throw curveballs of excessive moisture or drought, but these families run the most unwavering operations in Wyoming.”

Future optimism

Barrasso sees working with the new leaders in D.C. optimistically.

“With the new Trump administration, we now have the opportunity to look to the future and develop commonsense policies that recognize successful management depends on engagement at the local level,” he said. “We’re already working with the Trump administration to reverse harmful regulations like the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule, WOTUS and endangered species reform.”

As for the award, the Senator is very pleased.

“It’s an honor to receive the Farm Bureau’s Golden Plow Award. It’s hard to think of more hard working people than our nation’s farming communities. I will continue to stand up for them by fighting against Washington overreach and preserving the water rights of farmers and ranchers across the country,” Barrasso concluded.

Rebecca Colnar is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..