CENTER— Rio Grande County Farm Bureau members devoured a pig that roasted all day at Reid Mattive’s shop in Center on Friday, March 1, the main entree for the farmers and children who attended the Appreciation Luau.
Kids played fetch with a dog in the snow at sunset and raced inside to toss dozens of beach balls in the tropical setup. Wearing a grass skirt and other luau attire, Rio Grande County Farm Bureau president Mattive welcomed guests, including Cheryl Ann Radke, CEO and secretary of the Colorado Farm Bureau.
Based in the Denver Tech Center, Radke brought staff members from Fowler and the Front Range to celebrate in the San Luis Valley and learn more about the Rio Grande County chapter of the statewide organization.
Nationwide, the American Farm Bureau dates back to 1911 with education efforts and farm organization funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and a railroad interest in the northeastern U.S. The concept spread to include all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
In Colorado, organizations like the Rio Grande County Farm Bureau represent issues unique to the region. Some raise crops, others raise livestock, and the flat valley rises to prime grazing territory on the western and southern sides of the county. In addition to Mattive as president, the Rio Grande County Farm Bureau board includes seven members who meet quarterly to make decisions and share information.
After eating ample pork and dessert at Mattive’s shop, young children lowered down for a game of limbo while listening to calypso music. Their young parents supervised and cheered, representing the next two generations of local farmers in the county.
The Farm Bureau organization continues to offer education a century after forming on the east coast, and the insurance coverage has expanded as well. More important, the organization lobbies on behalf of farmers and ranchers in Colorado. The bill tracker on the Colorado Farm Bureau website scrolls through at least two dozen pieces of local and national legislation in some stage of development.
For example, the American Farm Bureau Federation is working with the Department of Transportation to modify long-haul transport requirements for livestock drivers. Regardless of cargo, truck drivers today can drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour stretch. If the rig is full of dry goods, time doesn’t matter quite like it does when the driver is moving goats or cows. Sensitive to fatigue requirements, the Farm Bureau is asking for a variance so truckers can drive 15 of 16 hours, in addition to 10 hours of mandatory rest after the shift.
As the party continued on Friday night, temperatures dropped under the San Luis Valley dark skies but the heat radiated inside Mattive’s workshop. The next generation of Valley farmers in Rio Grande County looked quite capable of keeping the party alive.