Weld County has deep roots in agriculture, with a history founded in farming operations that supported settlers rushing to Colorado during the gold rush in 1861. Today, Weld County is the number one agriculture-producing county east of the Rocky Mountains and in the top 10 nationwide. The initiative of feeding our population remains strong across Weld’s 4,000+ farms in operation today. Weld County encompasses 2.5 million acres, of which 75% is devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and dairy.
Weld County recognizes the impact agriculture has on the local and state economy as the Northern Colorado region expands urban development. The county supports a Right to Farm Statement declaring, “The County recognizes the importance of maintaining large contiguous parcels of productive agricultural lands in non-urbanizing areas of the County to support the economies of scale required for large agricultural operations.”
Agriculture producers in the region are keen on using technology to enhance their operations, creating a more sustainable future, and monitoring livestock health with precision detail.
Upstate recently had the opportunity to meet with Jason Brancel, CEO of a regionally headquartered agriculture coop, Agfinity, who is emersed with farmers every day to support and enhance their operations. Here’s what Jason had to say about agriculture in Weld County.
Interviewer: Tell us about your business. What does Agfinity do?
Jason: We’re a member-owned cooperative that started in 1905 when 20 potato farmers each invested $100 to do collectively through a cooperative the things they struggled to do well individually, which was sourcing crop inputs and market their potato crop.
Interviewer: That’s quite a storied history. I’m sure they used technology back in 1905, but it looked a little different than it does today. What is Agfinity’s role in the Ag Tech industry?
Jason: Technology is a huge part of agriculture today. If we’re going to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050, we can’t do it without technology deeply embedded into agriculture and agricultural practices. So as we look at technology across our organization, we look to the Answer Plot to provide thousands of agronomic insights that help growers make decisions that help them be more productive on the same number of acres in our county. 98% of our population relies on 2% of the people that are actively engaged in production agriculture, so we delegate the production of our food in this country to that 2%. What we do at Agfinity is help those farmers feed the world.
Interviewer: Having seen your Answer Plot, tell us about the role that piece of property plays.
Jason: The Answer Plot allows for data-driven insights that help drive decisions for farmers. So if you look at the Answer Plot, you’re seeing all kinds of different analytics that look at the inputs in a crop, the production practices, and helping the farmer produce more on the same acre. That’s a big part of feeding the world, that we have relatively the same number of acres in production today as we did decades ago, but those acres are more productive. They’re producing more crops, and that helps the farmer be more productive. They can only do that through the application of technology. I like to think of the farmer as the original environmentalist.
Interviewer: Weld County is a hotbed for agriculture. How do you help farmers feed the world?
Jason: If we look at Weld County, it’s a top 10 agricultural production county in the United States; we’ve got a lot of agriculture going on here. We’ve got livestock production and crop production, and we think of agriculture as a big tent at Agfinity. There’s room in that big tent for production agriculture that is very much rooted in applying technology to helping farmers feed the world, and then there is room for organic production. It’s not a this or that proposition; it’s a this and that under that big tent concept.
Interviewer: What would you tell another agriculture company about living and working in Northern Colorado?
Jason: Colorado is a great place to be. We can work very hard here and have a noble purpose in the work that we do helping farmers feed the world. And we have world-class recreational opportunities here. We love to ski, golf, mountain bike, fly fish, all of those things. We can do those in other parts of the world, but it’s world-class here in Colorado.
Northern Colorado is a hub for technology, and we see it continuing that way. We see an intersection of growth in technology and agricultural production. And when those two meet, very positive things can happen in regards to innovation that translate into action in different agriculture practices. In terms of being a great place to do business, [Weld County] is pro-growth and supportive of agriculture.
Interested in additional information on the agriculture industry in Weld County? Don’t hesitate to contact Upstate to learn more.