Celebrating Ag Day on March 8 and all Americans’ freedom

March 8 was Agriculture Day in Colorado and was declared so by Gov. John Hickenlooper by proclamation.

The day was filled with several events at the Capitol.

I was given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem between our opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. This was followed by the reading and passage of House Joint Resolution 12-2012 Concerning Recognition of March 8 as “National Agriculture Day.”

At noon, the Ag Council an organization of representatives from each of the state agricultural organizations in conjunction with the Colorado Chefs Association sponsored a cooking competition where talented chefs were paired with an agriculture producer and a state legislator and tasked with coming up with a new food dish.

I had the pleasure of participating with Chef Wayne Smith from the Colorado Mesa Culinary Program and sheep rancher John Bartman.

Our dish was called “J. Paul’s Lamb Tacos with Cryin’ Cowboy Hot Sauce.”

The event took place in the West Foyer of the Capitol, and folks lined up for blocks to get a taste of the 11 different entrées. My team did not win, but it was reported that the lamb tacos were one of the favorites.

The Ag Council also announced an in-kind and financial donation of $95,000 to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

In honor of former state senator and rancher Jim Isgar and in conjunction with Ag Day, a bone-marrow donation sign up was sponsored at the Capitol. As most folks know, Isgar is fighting leukemia, and it was very appropriate to honor him and help others on this special day.

We are indeed blessed to live in the United States of America and in the great state of Colorado and blessed to have an abundance of food. Americans enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world because of the entrepreneurial and inventive efficiency and productivity of our farm and ranch families. These families know what true sustainability is as they produce food products year after year.

Ninety-eight percent of all U.S. farms and ranches are family-owned, and each American farmer produces enough food and fiber to meet the needs and wants of 155 people.

Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Colorado and generates more than $20 billion of the state’s total economic production. American consumers spend less than 10 percent of their annual income on food.

Why are American farmers and ranchers the most productive in the world? We don’t have any more natural resources than any other country. Then why?

I would submit to you it is because of the freedom that we have in the U.S. No one tells a farmer when to plant his crop or what to plant or when to harvest. No one tells a rancher when to plan for baby calves or when to wean them or where to sell them.

Each agricultural producer makes those decisions, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, but America is always a winner.

May we never lose that freedom.

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Brown by phone at (303) 866-2914 or by email at jpaul.brown.house@state.co.us.