By Jim Magagna, Wyoming Stock Growers Association
As we celebrate Ag Day 2022 in Wyoming, there are certain words that are key to understanding Wyoming agriculture—past, present and future: “resilience”, “stability”, “longevity”. Each of these can be used to describe the history of Wyoming agriculture, the current state of Wyoming agriculture, and our vision for the future of Wyoming agriculture.
Agriculture in Wyoming, as we know it today, began in the 1850’s with the trailing of cattle into the state to take advantage of the abundant grass and water. In projecting the future of this nascent industry , the Cheyenne Leader stated in 1868, “That a future of the greatest importance is in store for the western plain, no one who has traveled over and lived upon them for any considerable length of time can doubt.” Four years later the Wyoming Stock Growers Association was formed by these cattle “barons”. In 2022 this organization is celebrating its 150th Anniversary. Wyoming Stock Growers together with the many Wyoming farms and ranches that are honored each year by the Centennial Farm and Ranch Program stand as testimony to the resilience, stability, and longevity of the state’s agriculture.
Wyoming agriculture has faced and overcome many challenges throughout its history. Most recently this has included the concurrent impacts of the COVID pandemic, drought, federal regulatory uncertainty, and litigation. Throughout the darkest days of the pandemic our farmers and ranchers tended their crops and livestock on a daily basis. While they faced the challenges of shortages of supplies and labor, ingenuity and commitment compensated. When our schools were closed to in-person learning, many agricultural families welcomed having their kids at home to help with the daily chores. While consumers felt the impact of empty shelves in the grocery store, these were due to processing and transportation delays, not to any declines in production at the farm or ranch level. Many consumers found relief in buying directly from the farm or ranch. Once again Wyoming agriculture demonstrated its resilience, stability, and longevity.
Today “sustainability” has become the key word driving discussions about agricultural production. These discussions far too often ignore the proven resilience, stability, and longevity record of Wyoming agriculture. Wyoming agriculture remains vibrant today because our agricultural produces embrace each day with a commitment to ensuring economic, environmental, and animal care sustainability. We can be confident that this commitment will continue in future generations of our agricultural producers. 2022 Ag day is an opportunity for every citizen to show our appreciation to Wyoming agriculture.