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Wyoming

Ceremony celebrates industry’s longevity

Douglas – Wyoming’s top dignitaries came together Aug. 16 to recognize some of Wyoming’s oldest ranches through the “Wyoming Centennial Farm & Ranch Program.”
    The Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch Program, re-established by the State Historic Preservation Office in 2006, honors families that have owned and operated the same farm or ranch for 100 years or more.
    Wyoming Rural Electric Association (WREA) Executive Director Shawn Taylor said his organization is proud to be a sponsor in the project. He said it’s always fun to visit with Wyoming’s ranch families and hear stories about “the day the lights came on.” The history of the WREA and that of Wyoming’s ranching families, said Taylor, go hand-in-hand.
    Looking back to his days running a shoe store in Gillette, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi said it was the consistency of the agricultural community that kept his store in business. Wyoming agriculture was among the state’s first businesses and ever since has annually made a contribution to the state’s economic well being.
    U.S. Senator John Barrasso noted the presence of two U.S. Senators and the Governor at the event stood as testament to just how important the agricultural industry is to Wyoming.
    Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal applauded those in attendance for their family’s longevity in the business, but also thanked them for their role as caretakers of the state’s resources. “Living with the land is different than living on the land,” said Freudenthal, noting this as a trait learned by those who’ve made it so long on the land. “This is a remarkable place we live in.”
    Honorees at the event were as follows:
•    The Charles Bruner Family from the Bruner Ranch established in Converse County in 1902.
•    Gerald and Patsy Bunney from the Bunney Ranch established near Aladdin in Crook County in 1884.
•    Robert (dec.) and Peggy Collins; Jay and Larry Collins from the Collins Farm and Ranch established in 1908 near Glendo in Platte County.
•    Roger Hunter and Lynn Hunter Ainsworth from the Raymond Hunter Farm and Ranch established in 1907 near Torrington in Goshen County.
•    Kenneth and Betty King from the King Cattle Co. established in 1908 near Burns in Laramie County.
•    Charles and Mary Alice Amend Engebretsen of the Lost Springs Ranch established near Lost Springs in Niobrara County in 1908.
•    Ron and Bette Lu Lerwick from the Homestead Acres established in 1908 near Albin in Laramie County.
•    Clarence Lowham from the Lowham Ranch Limited Partnership established in 1900 in Uinta County.
•    The Jerry McWilliams Family Homestead Farms established in 1908 near Cheyenne in Laramie County.
•    Jim and Deb Meng from the Meng Ranch established in 1908 near Lusk in Niobrara County.
•    Billie Jean Beaton and the Frank Shepperson Family of the Teapot Ranch established in 1903 near Midwest in Natrona County.
•    The Frank Shepperson Family of the Shepperson Ranch established in 1903 near Midwest in Natrona County.
•    The William Thoren Family of the Quien Sabe Ranch established in 1907 near Shoshoni in Fremont County.
•    The West Family of the West Cross V Ranch established in 1905 near Oshoto in Crook County.
•    The Wilson Family of Alta Land and Livestock established in 1892 near Alta in Teton County.
•    The Sedgwick-Wilson Family of the Wilson Ranch established in 1908 in Niobrara County.
•    The Wright Family from the Wright Ranch established in 1908 near Lost Springs in Converse County.
•    Gary and JoAnn Zakotnik of the GZ Ranch established in 1908 near Eden in Sweetwater County.
    At the Aug. 16 ceremony Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Milward Simpson said a book detailing the history of honored ranches will be compiled.
    Project partners include the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the Wyoming Stock Growers, the Wyoming Wool Growers, the WREA, the Wyoming Business Council and Mountain West Farm Bureau.
    Wyoming’s agricultural families wishing to apply for the honor in 2009 can do so by contacting the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office at 307-777-3418 or visiting http://wyoshpo.org for an application. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Douglas – Rain the latter part of the week didn’t dampen spirits or attendance at the 2008 Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo. Infrequently used Wyoming umbrellas received a good washing and show coordinators improvised by having portions of the cattle show take place in the barn alleyways.
    “Certainly, in my time on the board and in my recent memory of attending the fair, this year’s fair was one of the best,” says WSF Advisory Committee Chairman Bryce Reece. “When you can increase attendance, given the current economic situation with fuel prices, it’s a testament to the work the WSF Staff and Wyoming Department of Ag did.”
    WSF Director James Goodrich says some livestock numbers were down, but notes overall attendance on the grounds and at the grandstand events was up. “By and large everyone was pleased with how the grandstand events went,” he says. Attendance at the ranch rodeo doubled in attendance over last year. Although Friday night’s rodeo attendance was lower than organizers would have hoped, Goodrich says attendance was up for the Thursday evening bull riding and the Saturday rodeo performance.
    WSF’s focal point is always the kids. Wyoming FFA Association State Reporter Marti Brown says it’s an opportunity for the state’s youngsters to learn responsibility. As she and fellow officers helped at shows across the grounds, she says, “I love being a role model. I like to show other kids all of the good things FFA can bring them.” As 4-H and FFA youth are awarded their winnings, members of the Wyoming State FFA Officer team are often the first to shake their hands and tell them congratulations.
    “I’m always up in the mountains helping my parents so this is my first year at State Fair,” says Wyoming FFA Association Secretary Jessie Allen, whose parents have an outfitting business. “I think that a big lesson that I’ve watched some kids learn is that they don’t always win. It’s sad to watch when they lose, but they take it well and learn. They’re also learning to make new friends since we all stay in the dorms together.”
    Wyoming FFA Association President Ty McNamee says, “I love talking with the FFA members. I think you’re able to impact their lives a lot more as a state officer.” WSF goes a long way in helping Ty meet his goal of meeting as many FFA members as possible during his tenure as a state officer.
    New at this year’s fair was a gathering place in the dorms with a big screen television, foosball tables and more. Goodrich says it was a hit among young fair participants and provided them a place to make new friends and take a break after the shows.
    Success of the Ashton Shepherd and Bellamy Brothers concert, the first concert in several years, drew excitement grounds-wide. “We had between 2,100 and 2,300,” says Goodrich of the concert, with final accounting still underway with ticket outlets. “That’s a very good, responsive crowd. It’s a welcome addition. We have some ideas for next year, but haven’t talked about any one in particular.”
    Reece says the much talked about “Mustang Challenge,” which took place in the new equine center, was also a huge success. “The new equine building is rated for 750 people and there was standing room only on Saturday,” says Reece. It wasn’t the only time the new red barn filled with fair enthusiasts, with over 1,000 lining up for steaks served by the Converse County CowBelles and Converse County Bank following the Ranch Rodeo on Aug. 10.
    “The new equine barn added to the activity,” says Goodrich. “We just barely finished that barn in time to have fair with that building. The only thing we didn’t have was a sound system.” As the rain came down toward week’s end there were many people saying, “Glad we have these barns done.”
    As Goodrich looks ahead to next year, he says they’re always looking to improve the event. With the top six market lambs disqualified because they didn’t meet the now-in-place tail docking rule, he says those regulations will be revisited this fall. “It’s an unfortunate situation and it hasn’t been easy to address,” says Goodrich. “We’re going to continue to try and address it.”
    “There’s always room for improvement and we’ve identified some of those areas and will continue to work on those,” says Goodrich of what he hopes to be an ever-improving WSF. “We’ll have the landscaping, the show rings and the artwork done by 2009, and the campground electrical upgrade in place,” says Goodrich.
    “Thanks to everyone for their support in coming out,” says Goodrich. “We had good crowds on the mid-way and at the grandstand events.”
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Casper - This fall the Wyoming AgXpo will feature a new outlet for talented Wyoming youth – the Wyoming AgXpo Youth Talent Contest Review on Nov. 21.
    The contest is open to non-professional Wyoming youth ages 10 through 20 and offers four categories – folk or country music, gospel music, Western poetry and Western storytelling.
    “We were thinking about entertainment for the AgXpo and a group of several of us came up with the idea of the talent contest,” says event organizer Scott Keith of the Wyoming Business Council.
    He says their attention was brought to the fact that the Wyoming Idol program, normally held at the Wyoming State Fair, is not going to happen in 2009 because of the tight schedule between the fair dates and the national contest finals. “We got to thinking we could do something similar for youth,” he says.
    “We’ve got a lot of talented young people in the state and nobody ever gets to see them,” says event organizer Milt Green of the UW Cooperative Extension Service. “At first I was thinking this could be for 4-H and FFA, but as we got to talking we thought we should open it to all youth.”
    Invitations have been sent to 4-H Extension Educators, FFA instructors and high school music instructors throughout the state.
    “The theme of our AgXpo is ‘Showcasing Wyoming’s heritage and agriculture successes.’ We wanted to make sure that any kind of talent we presented would publicly support the theme,” says Green. “Our contest categories are all consistent with our theme of Wyoming’s heritage.”
    A panel of AgXpo officials will review contest entries and select 15 to compete during the day on Nov. 21. Of those, five will be selected to perform that night on stage in the arena before a live audience. The contest will draw upon Pinedale cowboy poet Andy Nelson’s talent to emcee the program.
    Keith says the evening will begin at 7:30 Friday night and run in the same format as American Idol. “The judges will sit on stage with the performer and the emcee and they’ll have an opportunity to critique the performance as soon as they’re done. At the end of the night they’ll select one Grand Finale winner.”
    The Grand Finale winner will not be eligible for future contests but will be invited to return in future years to serve as a panel judge. Judging will be based on general appearance, quality of the presentation and overall stage presence of the performer.  Keith says cash prizes will be awarded, as well as others not yet finalized.
    “We’re encouraging schools and music teachers and people that know kids with talent to start talking to their friends and spread word of the contest around and hopefully we’ll have some good contestants,” says Keith.
    The contest is free to enter and there’s no charge to attend as a part of the AgExpo trade show. Keith encourages people to arrive at the contest early to take advantage of the trade show and the opportunity to be entered for door prizes.
    “I’ve had a lot of interest shown in the contest already,” says Green. “Many people have called to ask questions, and I’m really encouraged about participation. I hope we have a huge chore ahead of us in deciding who we’re going choose for the show that night.”
    For more information call Milt Green at 307-235-9400 or 307-259-1213. Applicants must produce and submit a videotape, CD or DVD of their performance by Oct. 24 to: Milton Green, University Extension Educator, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, 2011 Fairgrounds Road, Casper, WY 82604. Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

With 2013 behind us and wet snow for the first days of 2014, Wyoming agriculture industry groups are optimistic about the coming year.

Cattle prices are projected to be higher than normal and drought is easing across much of the country, leading to optimism throughout much of the industry.

Livestock issues

“I am going to take an optimistic outlook on 2014,” comments Leanne Correll, Wyoming Livestock Board director and CEO. “We have had issues with livestock over the past year, but when we look at the big picture, it has been positive. “

Correll adds that she looks progress toward to continuing forward with the WLSB computerization project and the challenges that it will bring.

“The biggest challenges I see in 2014 are the changes in our day-to-day operation with the implementation of computerization,” she comments. “Hopefully the benefits will outweigh the detriments, and we are able to get to the point that it works well.”

“It will be challenging, but I am very optimistic that it will be a good year moving forward,” Correll adds.

Farm policy

Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton notes that farm policy will continue to be discussed on the national level into 2014.

“We’ll see discussions on the Farm Bill this year, and our folks in Washington, D.C. say that we will see something early in the year,” he says.

Currently, the sticking points for the Farm Bill include nutrition programs, but Hamilton also adds that elections in 2014 may results in changes in the House or Senate that could alleviate these issues for future legislation.

“If there is a change in the House or Senate, I’m sure it will change the way the political landscape works,” Hamilton adds. 

Water regulations

Also nationally, Hamilton notes that the Chesapeake Bay decision related to the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to dictate total maximum daily loads and their implementation will affect Wyoming down the line.

“We are hopeful that the court will overturn that decision,” he says. “If the decision is upheld, the EPA will start moving into land use regulation through water quality, and that is a very serious concern.”

For 2014, Hamilton adds that the focus of Farm Bureau will be on national regulatory concerns.

Wyoming Legislature

For Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, 2014 brings several legislative concerns, as well as work on forests.

“Legislatively, there are a couple of things that are high on our agenda, and they carry over from 2013,” he says. “We didn’t quite get the bill on protection for landowners against liability for trespassers injured on their lands or the bill that puts parameters on state acquisition of land.”

The bills, Magagna said, will be introduced this year, and he hopes to see them passed.

He also mentioned the Grazing Improvement Act in the U.S. Congress, mentioning, “While it is a long way from anything acceptable, the fact that we were able to get grazing legislation through committee in the Senate creates some opportunity for 2014.”

He looks forward to moving in a positive direction with the legislation.

Forest Service

Magagna also serves in a national capacity on the Federal Forest Service Advisory Committee on the Forest Service Planning Rule. 

“I think we came out with some very positive recommendations from the Forest Service that will be beneficial,” Magagna comments. “The devil will be in the implementation.”

Nationally, he says recommendations include enhancing the role of state and local governments in the planning process. 

“There is also language with regards to water rights and recognizing the impacts of forests on downstream water supplies,” he explains. “The whole area of socio-economics and strengthening the rule of cultural consideration in the Forest Planning process was another area that we found common ground on.”
At the state level, he continues that Governor Mead’s Forest Health Task Force has begun meeting, and Magagna believes the group may be able to make changes to help livestock grazing.

Conservation efforts

The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) Executive Director Bobbie Frank says, “This year, I think most of our work will be with the industry and others to provide ground water related education.”

With Governor Mead’s Water Strategy being formed, Frank adds that dealing with water quality issues will continue to be a top priority.

“The state will also be issues a new updated version of the 303(d) list, so the change in workload for districts will also be coming,” she said.

Frank continues, “Like most years, we will have a combination of new efforts and completing projects.”

She notes that the Pathway to Water Quality project is nearly complete, and the Living Legacy program continues, but there are no new big-ticket projects that will be started by WACD this year.

Sage grouse

Frank continues that as the listing decision for sage grouse approaches, WACD will be working with The Nature Conservancy and Wyoming Stock Growers Association to educate producers on the Sage Grouse Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances.

“We are not promoting the CCAA, but we are educating people on what it does,” Frank says. “For some producers, it will be a good fit, and for others, it won’t, but we will be part of the partnership making sure the word gets out.”

General optimism

“If we see some decent rain and our cattle prices continue to stay, I think we will have a good year,” Hamilton says. “For producers raising corn, that may not be the case.”

While Hamilton notes that sometimes agriculture sees good years in one segment but not in other, he says, “It would be nice to see a good year all around.”

Magagna adds, “We’re looking forward to 2014.” 

He continues, “I think there will be a number of issues we will discuss over the course of the next year, and it could reap benefits for us that aren’t necessarily enjoyed by other states.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laramie – Lowell Catlett, Regents Professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics and Dean of the College of Agriculture at New Mexico State University, joined nearly 150 participants at the AgriFuture 2011 in Laramie on Oct. 13 with a dynamic presentation on the future of agriculture and the unlimited opportunities available to young people in the industry.

AgriFuture 2011 marks the second year of the conference, which is geared toward bringing young people together with professionals and producers to learn and talk about agriculture issues. People from Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming gathered for nearly two days to meet and discuss the opportunities in agriculture.

Catlett opened the conference by saying that today we are in the golden age of agriculture.

“No one knows about the future,” said Catlett, “Trust your own instincts and be ready for it. We’re won’t know the future, but we can talk about the things that are happening.”

Catlett began by emphasizing his “theory of the long nose.” By looking at the past and thinking about how we can apply similar concepts to future problems, he noted that the problems of the future are solvable.

The example of Barry Marshall, a medical doctor who won the Nobel Prize, provided affirmation that the past does provide answers for the future. Marshall read a paper that identified a specific bacteria as the cause of ulcers in cattle and deduced that a similar bacteria may be causing ulcers in humans.

“It was difficult because the dogma of the time was that ulcers were caused by stress,” explained Catlett. “Then, in 1991, the National Institutes of Health said that 92 to 98 percent of all ulcers were caused by that bacteria.”

“It’s the theory of the long nose in action,” said Catlett.

“Who would have thought that we could take corn and make ethanol? The moonshiners knew that,” quipped Catlett.

Further Catlett looked at the today as the golden age of agriculture.

“We’ve never had this in my lifetime,” said Catlett.

Catlett added that after providing for our basic needs of food, housing and security, Americans only spend 31 percent of their disposable income.

“I’m going to buy you food and let you eat almost one out of every two meals not at home. I’m going to buy you a home and pay your utilities, including hooking you up to the Internet,” said Catlett. “We spend the lowest percentage of our disposable income on necessities in the world.”

“Now what I’ve got left in America is 69 percent of the disposable income to play and buy crap,” added Catlett. “What you have is enough vibrancy for the economy to grow.”

Catlett continued that, as countries around the world start increasing their income, the consumption of meat increases.

“When you have more money, you start changing your diet,” said Catlett. “There was a four-fold increase in meat consumption in China in the last 10 years, most of it was poultry and most of it came from the U.S.”

“Growth is happening around the world, and that is why this is the golden age,” emphasized Catlett. “It isn’t just about calories anymore, it is about all the other things.”

Reflecting back, Catlett recalled the generation of baby boomers was concerned about subsisting and obtaining the basic necessities for life. This generation spent time saving money and putting money away into retirement and savings accounts.

“I’m telling you that there are only four million of those people left in the world, and in five years 90 percent will be dead. In 10 years the last generation whose mindset was about food will be gone,” explained Catlett. “We will live in the ‘dream space.’”

Dream space, as defined by Catlett, is the time when we have reached the levels of searching for self-actualization according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

In agriculture, Catlett defined the dream space as consisting of niche and segmented markets, including organic, antibiotic-free and free range.

“I’m here to tell you that we should be proud of our differentiated market place,” said Catlett. “Agriculture isn’t just about calories and producing food anymore, it is just as much about all of the connection that we make. That is what the golden age is all about.”

As producers take advantage of options in their operations through value-added products, as well as things like hunting and the comforts of the agriculture lifestyle, the industry continues to develop.

Catlett further described a producer in Australia taking full advantage of opportunities by building a retirement facility on his agriculture land, offering the benefits of a country lifestyle and the comforts of home. Other producers who are taking advantage of opportunities are those who supplement their farming income through hunting or growing organic peanuts in New Mexico.

“We like to be around people, plants and animals,” said Catlett. “People are buying houses where there are grass and trees, and spending much of their money on pets.”

“Agriculture is the new gold,” continued Catlett, explaining that the industry encompasses and emphasizes the things that Americans seek and can obtain.

“It is about the most phenomenal opportunities ever available on the planet,” Catlett told students. “If you doubt, just remember Henry Ford, who said, ‘If I would have asked the American people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. I gave them something a little different and better.’”

“We’re putting in things we never dreamed possible,” said Catlett. “Get ready for it.”

Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..