Ag Summit connects food, innovation and problem-solving

Colorado State University Agriculture and Innovation Summit
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper highlights Colorado’s rise and prominence as an agricultural producer.

“If you eat, you are a part of agriculture.”

This theme, and many others similar to it, were echoed at Colorado State University’s “Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation” summit held at the Lory Student Center, March 18-20.

Over 400 individuals attended the summit, co-presented by CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Office of Engagement, as sponsors, panelists, and attendees.

Leaders and innovators

Day one of the summit saw 21 agricultural leaders and industry innovators assembled at a leadership roundtable where they discussed issues such as meeting increased demand for food and educating consumers as to where their food comes from. The day ended with master class seminars focused on big data and climate smart agriculture that were delivered to standing-room only audiences.

The second day of the summit began with introductory remarks from CSU College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Craig Beyrouty who outlined some of the global challenges facing agriculture including reducing food waste, ensuring nutritional security, and making optimal use of the land.

Colorado State University Agriculture and Innovation Summit
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock discusses the strong partnership between the City and CSU.

Importance of agriculture

CSU President and Interim Chancellor Tony Frank emphasized the importance of agriculture to Colorado’s economy, and that the summit was an opportunity to anticipate the future of agriculture, a future that will be impacted by CSU research and outreach.

The audience also heard from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Hancock emphasized CSU’s strong partnership with the city of Denver highlighting the redevelopment of the National Western Stock Show complex as an example, while Hickenlooper noted Colorado’s rise and prominence as an agricultural producer, third only to Texas (five times the size of Colorado) and California (seven times the state of Colorado).

The future

Colorado State University Agriculture and Innovation Summit
CSU President Tony Frank highlights the importance of agriculture in Colorado.

Moderated conversations figured prominently over the remainder of the summit as industry leaders discussed how their businesses have changed and what they see as agriculture’s future in the areas of:

  • dairy;
  • water use and availability;
  • business innovation;
  • nurturing the next generation of talent;
  • financing the future of agriculture innovation;
  • the fast and fresh revolution; and
  • healthy food systems to guarantee safe, secure and plentiful agriculture.

The summit wrapped up with possible next steps. Participants acknowledged there were many opportunities to build on the topics and themes discussed; that additional collaborative investments were needed from a variety of funding sources from traditional banks to venture capitalists; and refining the definition of agriculture in light of the innovations and revolutionary technological advancements making food more available, accessible and affordable.

Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation

Colorado State University Agriculture and Innovation Summit
CSU Associate Vice President for Engagement Kathay Rennels talks about the university’s commitment to being a strong link in the agricultural value chain.

The Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation summit was produced in partnership with Colorado State University Offices of the President, Provost, Vice President for Research, Vice President for External Relations, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, College of Business and CSU Ventures. The event was supported by the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA).