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When National Issues Hit Home

When National Issues Hit Home


Although the United States of America hosts only about 4 percent of the world’s population, our country produces enough food annually for 29 percent of the entire population of the Earth!

Here is the math: There are 325 million people in the United States, and 7.7 billion in the world. Our agriculture industry produces enough food every year to feed 2.2 billion people, almost 7 times more people as currently reside in our country.

This is one of the most fascinating facts I learned at the recent National Association of Counties Annual Conference, where trying to absorb all the information available was like the famous idiom, “Drinking water from a fire hose.”

Because I serve on the NACo Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee, I organized my schedule to attend each session even loosely based on these topics. I was able to bring back massive amounts of information and have continued researching, reading, and absorbing what feels like a ton of data. That information ties directly back to Fremont County in far-reaching ways I never had imagined.

I learned members of our local agricultural community have the incredible opportunity to participate in international trade missions both locally and abroad. The United States Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Agriculture each send delegations to places like Canada, Vietnam, West Africa, Colombia, and Panama, to name a few. In addition, inbound missions right here in Colorado host events that allow Ag producers an easier avenue to expand product sales across the globe. Retailers from around the world who are interested in adding American products to their shelves travel here to meet producers.

My committee also discussed the need for education from the youngest ages to teach children where their food actually originates. Fremont County kids likely know the connection between steak and a cow, or bacon and a pig; unfortunately, urban children may not – but should.

Coloradan Sallie Clark, Colorado State Director for United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, spoke several times to discuss the many programs available to communities like ours through the USDA. Loans and grants provide essential services such as housing, health care, libraries, first responder services and equipment, and infrastructure for water, electric, and communications. USDA also promotes economic development by supporting businesses with loans, technical assistances and information to help Ag producers get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. In addition, USDA provides technical assistance to help rural residents buy or rent safe, affordable housing, and make health and safety repairs to their homes.

During the conference, the steering committee adopted a platform change urging federal assistance for costly repairs and upgrades to farm-to-market and ranch-to-market infrastructure, those rural roads that primarily serve to transport Ag products from a farm or ranch to the marketplace.

The other approved platform change is to lobby for additional sustained funding for rural broadband deployment and support for cooperatives deploying telecommunications services by leveraging and streamlining key federal programs.

These platforms are only one benefit Fremont County receives from engaging on a national level with NACo, a fact-based, non-partisan organization made up of counties from across the United States. As counties, we set the policy, and staff drives it on the national level.

I still have much, much more information on Ag and Rural Affairs that I’m happy to share. Are you interested in the many programs mentioned here? Let me know! Together, we can make an incredible difference here in Fremont County.

Debbie Bell is the Fremont County Commissioner for District 2. She can be reached at (719) 276-7300 or