FOOD AND AGRICULTURE IN THE ROCKIES: Current Challenges and New Trends

Agriculture has a symbiotic relationship with the Rockies region, making use of the land, water, and environment while simultaneously shaping settlement patterns, demographics, economic prosperity, and land use. The 2007 Agricultural Census, in data released early 2009, reveals gradual changes in both national and Rockies agriculture. The number of farms and ranches are growing even as total farmland area is shrinking, Mega-agricultural enterprises are also taking center stage in farm production, and new products are matching changing food preferences. The result: a dynamic landscape of agriculture and food throughout the eight-state Rockies region.

During 2009-2010 the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project combines its traditional monthly speaker series and annual symposium, resulting in a monthly food and agriculture symposium during the academic year. This year's series will feature experts with thought-provoking insights concerning the state of agriculture and food. Over the months we will trace key elements that make food and agriculture so central to the environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the spectacular but fragile Rockies region. Co-Sponsors: Colorado College Cultural Attractions Fund for financial support and Colorado College Student Garden Project



Previous Speakers

Dr. Bill Weida - "Reclaiming American Agriculture"

Dr. William (Bill) Weida is President of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project ( He previously served for ten years as Director of the GRACE Factory Farm Project. He was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and retired as a Professor of Economics and Business at The Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he specialized in regional economics, statistics, and econometric modeling. His lecture will address the economic, political, and health impacts of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), how and why we have deviated from conventional farming, and how we can reclaim American agriculture.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Dan Morgan and Elaine Shannon: "The New Politics of Agriculture"

Dan Morgan and Elaine ShannonThe second installment in the State of the Rockies Speaker Series: Food and Agriculture in the Rockies, will feature Dan Morgan and Elaine Shannon. Morgan and Shannon will both address “The New Politics of Agriculture.” Dan Morgan is a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a non-partisan public policy group. He is also a journalist, author and former foreign correspondent who has worked at the Washington Post for more than 30 years. Mr. Morgan was nominated for the American Book Award (Merchants of Grain, 1980), and was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer, most recently for the "Harvesting Cash" series that appeared in the Post in 2007. His lecture will address the political battle between “Old Ag” (lobbies representing major farm organizations and commodity groups) and “New Ag.” In his talk, Mr. Morgan will examine some of the issues affecting farming and ranching in the Rocky Mountain region in the context of this debate. Elaine Shannon, editor-in-chief at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is an award-winning journalist and author of three books who has written extensively on public policy. From 1987 to 2007, Ms. Shannon was a national correspondent for TIME Magazine, and prior to that she was a Newsweek Washington correspondent. Ms. Shannon’s lecture: “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally,” will discuss the EWG’s pioneering work in computer databases and mapping techniques that transform abstract environmental issues into concrete, vivid human-scale narratives. EWG is best known for its interactive farm subsidies database, and its work mapping thousands of mining claims staked around national treasures and along the Colorado River, which caused the Obama administration to declare 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon off-limits to mining. Mr. Morgan and Ms. Shannon live in Washington, D.C.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Dr. Rosamond Naylor: "Where's the Beef? Trade-offs Between Grassfed and Industrial Livestock"

Dan Morgan and Elaine ShannonThe third installment of the State of the Rockies Speaker Series: "Food and Agriculture in the Rockies," will feature Dr. Rosamond Lee Naylor. Dr. Naylor is the Director of the Program on Food Security and the Environment, the William Wrigley Senior Fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Woods Institute of the Environment, and a Professor of Environmental Earth Systems Science at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the environmental and equity dimensions of intensive crop, livestock, and fish production worldwide. Naylor has been an author on numerous interdisciplinary science and policy papers focused on climate impacts on agriculture, nutrient wastes from animal and crop production, ecosystem impacts of marine aquaculture, and agricultural technology. She also writes broadly in the food policy and security fields, and contributes to legislative processes at the California state and federal levels. At Stanford, Naylor is on the faculty of the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Environment and Resources (IPER) and she teaches courses on the World Food Economy, Sustainable Agriculture, Earth Systems Science, and Climate and Agriculture. Naylor was named Fellow in the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in Environmental Sciences in 1999 and Pew Fellow in Conservation and the Environment in 1994. Her talk will provide a global and regional perspective of the impacts of industrial agriculture. Sponsored by The State of the Rockies Project and the CC Cultural Attractions Fund.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Richard Manning: "In Wildness is the Preservation of Sustainability"

ManningThe fourth installment of the State of the Rockies Speaker Series: "Food and Agriculture in the Rockies," will feature Richard Maning. Manning is an award-winning environmental writer. He is the author of eight books including One Round River, which was named a significant book of the year by the New York Times, and most recently Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape (University of California Press, 2009). As a freelance writer, Manning has been published in Harper’s, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Wired, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Audubon, among others.In addition to his writing, Manning worked as a consultant on agriculture, poverty and the environment to the McKnight Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Manning lives in Missoula, Montana. Sponsored by The State of the Rockies Project and the CC Cultural Attractions Fund.

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.



Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow: "The Mythological Power of the 'Family Farm'"Sherow

The fifth installment of the State of the Rockies Speaker Series: "Food and Agriculture in the Rockies," will feature Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, associate professor of history at Kansas StateUniversity. Her research and teaching have focused primarily on the history of different peoples' interactions with the rural environment of the American West. Her book, Red Earth: Race and Agriculture in Oklahoma Territory, traces the different ways in which Euro-American, African-American and Kiowa communities shaped the agricultural ecology of Oklahoma Territory in the decades before statehood. Dr. Lynn-Sherow's talk will focus on the mythological power of the "family farm" ideal in American history and the West in particular. She will discuss the "mythical" power of Jeffersonian Agrarianism, and how it has been transformed into something Jefferson would never have recognized. In particular she will trace how agrarian fundamentalism, that is a belief in landownership as the bedrock of democracy, has been accepted and internalized in a variety of different contexts in the last two centurys and the unintended consequences it has engendered.

Monday, February 22, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
Gates Common Room, third floor of Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave. (east of Tutt Library) (map)
This event is free and open to the general public.