Ag Day in Wyoming!

Each year, we celebrate agriculture at the start of spring. This year, Ag Day falls on March 19th and we collected articles from around the industry here in Wyoming that talk about the importance of this industry. Enjoy!

The Value of Agriculture in Wyoming - By Doug Miyamoto, Director, Wyoming Department of Agriculture

When you drive across this state, what you see is unlike almost any other place in this country. I’ve spent time touring agricultural operations around the world and there are very few places, if any, like the state of Wyoming. The open spaces, the dedication of our producers, and the communities they help sustain feel different than almost any you’ll come across anywhere. As you drive, you’ll see cattle spread across the range and long periods of uninterrupted views of the land. That’s just not something you see on the coasts or other more populated areas of the US but that’s how it has always been here in Wyoming. One of the main reasons for that is our Agriculture industry. It is, and always has been a major factor in the economic standing and identity of our state. 

As the third largest industry in our state, ag provides much needed revenues as well as sustains the majority of our rural communities. This industry touches every part of this state in some way and it always has. From the early days, ag not only helped build the communities across Wyoming, it became a major part of our cultural identity. To this day, this industry is key to Wyoming’s identity and one of the main things that makes our state great.

Along with this, ag contributes to Wyoming in other significant ways. Without it, we would have significantly less of the open spaces that we are known for across the country. This open space and the producers on it help maintain habitat for wildlife that draws visitors from all over the world for recreational opportunities. Our producers are the best stewards of the lands they utilize because it is one of their most important resources. The management efforts and conservation done by our producers help facilitate strong wildlife populations along with their operations. In fact, Wyoming producers are doing a better and better job of diversifying their operations through agritourism opportunities and more. The people who come to our state to enjoy hunting opportunities on private lands or the dude ranches spread across our state not only leave with a positive experience and better understanding of our industry, but they also spend money in our communities that help our state thrive. 

This is important to mention because the most recent Ag Census from the USDA noted that the total of acres dedicated to agriculture has dropped nationwide. Across the US, this industry has lost more than 20 million acres. Wyoming fared better than most states but was also down more than 200,000 acers in this most recent census. This is not trending in a direction we want or need. Making sure agriculture sector maintains lands not only in Wyoming, but nationwide, is vital to the people of our country. One of the most important things to any civilization is the ability to feed themselves. Keeping our agricultural lands in production and ensuring that we have the ability to be food independent is not only good for our communities and economy, it is imperative to our national security.  

Our industry routinely faces challenges that make this business harder and harder. While there were more young people currently getting into farming and ranching according to the recent Census, we are still facing an aging producer population. Attracting more young people to this industry is key to maintaining a strong agricultural system in the US. Along with this, policy decisions that deal with grazing, endangered species, wild horses and more are always threatening the profitability and viability of our operators. We strive to make sure agriculture has a seat at the table when these decisions are being made but the challenges continue to arise. Add to this the constant threat of severe weather and variable climates, our industry is constantly having to fight to find ways to move forward.  

Thankfully, we have some of the best and most resilient producers in the world. They have weathered storms and seasons that others across the country couldn’t even imagine. They are hardworking, dedicated, and know how to get the job done. These folks are some of the best our state has to offer and they enrich their communities not only economically but by sitting on boards, commissions and volunteering their time and talents to their communities. The most important commodity our state has to offer has always been, and will continue to be the people of this industry.

Recently, we had the chance to showcase Wyoming agriculture on a national scale by hosting the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting. During this meeting, Directors, Secretaries, and Commissioners from across the country, as well as federal partners and industry representatives, came to Wyoming to discuss important policy items for our industry and see what we had to offer. As part of this meeting, attendees had the chance to tour some of the agricultural operations and talk about Wyoming ag and issues. The meeting was an overwhelming success and we were able to not only showcase our industry and people here in Wyoming, we were able to elevate understanding of our interests which helps drive policy discussions that help our region and state. It was a great opportunity to put our state front and center as part of this national meeting.

This industry is imperative to the state of Wyoming. Economically and culturally, agriculture is one of the main things that makes our state great. On this Ag Day, or any day really, I hope you have the chance to visit with a producer, learn more about agriculture, or just take a minute to think about the importance of this industry to your everyday life. It is truly one we can’t live without. 

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2024 Ag Day Proclamation