...That Colorado agriculture be strong and vibrant, a key driver of the state's economy, and recognized worldwide for its safe and abundant supply of high-quality food and agriculture products.
...To strengthen and advance Colorado agriculture; promote a safe and high quality food supply; protect consumers; and foster responsible stewardship of the environment and natural resources.
When thinking about colorful Colorado, outdoor adventure and the Rocky Mountains usually spring to mind. However, nearly half of the state’s 66 million acres are dedicated to farms and ranches. Home to towering mountains and fertile plains, soil from Colorado’s eastern regions, and valleys of the western mountains are some of the most fertile in the nation.
Cattle and calves, corn, wheat, hay, and dairy dominate as the Centennial State’s leading agricultural commodities. Colorado is as diverse in agricultural production as in geography, with producers raising traditional row crops, produce, along with bison, and growing hemp, sunflowers, grapes and mushrooms, among other crops.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) supports Colorado’s producers and protects consumers by performing a variety of different functions. We provide a wide range of services including: regulation and certification of the livestock industry, including brand inspection; certification of organic crop and livestock production; regulation of the use of pesticides and pesticide applicators; administration of inspection and consumer services programs; protection of animals and pet care facilities; provision of conservation stewardship services across the state; regulation of industrial hemp; promotion of Colorado's agricultural industries; and administration of the State Fair and fairgrounds.
The Commissioner's Office is home to the agency’s financial management, legislative policy, human resources, communications, and information technology teams. The group works together to provide leadership and operational support to CDA’s divisions of Animal Health, Brand Inspection, Inspection and Consumer Services, Colorado State Fair, Conservation Services, Laboratory Services, Markets and Plant Industry. Additionally, the Commissioner’s Office manages CDA’s continuity of operations plan, drives process excellence, and advocates for CDA stakeholders on a multitude of diverse issues including federal farm legislation, water policy, food safety, animal welfare, environmental rules and regulations, and much more.
The Animal Health Division works in close cooperation with livestock producers and veterinary medical organizations, as well as other state and federal agencies, to protect the health, welfare, and marketability of Colorado livestock. This division provides livestock disease prevention and control, animal disease traceability, coordination of livestock emergency incident preparedness and response, disease surveillance, collaboration toward predator control services, licensing of aquaculture facilities, and oversees the Bureau of Animal Protection.
The Brand Inspection Division inspects and verifies ownership of approximately four million head of livestock annually, investigates cases of stolen or missing livestock and assists in their recovery and return, and assists in criminal prosecutions as necessary. We have been part of Colorado's history in one form or another since 1865. Brand inspection serves several important purposes, including deterring theft, facilitating commerce, protecting livestock producers and lenders, providing accurate tracking of livestock movements for use in disease traceability, facilitating the return of stolen or stray livestock, and helping keep the livestock industry healthy and viable. Our job is to protect Colorado's $3 billion livestock industry from loss by theft or straying. The Division also records and administers approximately 32,000 livestock brands, licenses public livestock markets and certified feedlots, inspects and verifies ownership of alternative livestock (i.e., domestic elk and fallow deer), and inspects and licenses approximately 55 alternative livestock facilities.
The Colorado State Fair (CSF) began in 1869 as a horse exhibition before Colorado was officially a state. The CSF is a Colorado-owned resource located in Pueblo that provides a year- round, multi-use facility to serve local, regional, and state needs. The grounds are booked for a variety of exhibitions and activities such as consumer shows, conventions, conferences, live stage and arena shows, livestock expositions, sports tournaments and private celebrations. These events help the Colorado State Fair Board Authority operate in a fiscally effective and efficient manner these historic grounds. The CSF has canceled only once during its entire history, in 1917, during World War when the Fairgrounds' horse stables and space offered an ideal training facility for the Army National Guard. Since then, the Colorado State Fair has become the largest summer event in the state offering families a taste of the state's vibrant and diverse agriculture, industry, and culture. The annual 11-day event in late summer attracts, on average, more than 475,000 people who come to have fun, be entertained and learn about all things agriculture. Driven primarily by Colorado youth enrolled in 4-H and FFA programs, the fair highlights the best of the best in livestock, equine, horticulture, and general project areas like leather crafts and leadership, shooting sports, STEM projects and many more. In addition to the youth education projects, the CSF provides attendees with rodeos and concerts, livestock shows, horse shows, and carnival.
The Conservation Services Division provides leadership related to land and resource management issues, including federal lands. The Division is comprised of seven programs - Agricultural Chemicals and Groundwater Protection, Agricultural Energy, Biological Pest Control, Chemigation, the Colorado State Conservation Board, Noxious Weed Management, and Weed Free Forage. Together, these programs provide technical and financial support, leadership and coordination, and regulatory oversight to public/private landowners and agricultural businesses statewide on an array on natural resource management challenges.
The Division of Inspection and Consumer Services (ICS) provides economic protection to agricultural producers and ensure that Colorado consumers receive products that are safe, properly labeled, and sold with integrity. ICS regulates animal feed, fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, compost, farm products dealers, commodity handlers/grain warehouses, pet animal care facilities, scales and other measuring devices, pricing and package weight accuracy, eggs, custom meat plants and wild game processors. Additionally, the office is serving as the lead for implementation of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
In early 2019, the Department finished its goal of consolidating staff from five Denver metro offices into a single campus in Broomfield. This allowed CDA to create a Division of Laboratory Services, which consists of the Animal Health, Biochemistry, and the Metrology Laboratories, and operate within the new laboratory facility. The data produced by these laboratories serves many varied agriculture industries, law enforcement, veterinarians and consumers in addition to supporting the regulatory efforts of the Animal Health, Conservation, Inspection & Consumer Services, and Plants divisions. The mission of this division is to conduct accurate, timely and legally defensible chemical, microbiological and instrumental analysis of samples related to animal health, pesticides, fertilizer, animal feeds, ground and surface waters, industrial hemp and marijuana in addition to serving as the primary source of measurement standards for the Department and providing volume and mass calibrations for CDA field inspectors, Department of Labor and Employment and other external customers.
The Markets Division helps increase marketing opportunities for Colorado's farmers, ranchers, and food companies and fosters the development of value-added and processing business ventures. Key initiatives for promoting products locally are the Colorado Proud program, business development workshops, Farm Fresh guide, and a wide array of other directories and listings. The division assists producers and companies to develop international sales by facilitating business-to-business meetings with buyers and through trade shows and outbound and inbound missions. The Markets division also collects and disseminates livestock market news and provides size, grade, and phytosanitary inspection services and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) verification audits for fruit and vegetable producers and shippers. This includes the Fruit & Vegetable Inspection Section located at 735 Second Avenue Monte Vista, CO. Additionally, the division provides administrative oversight for eight market order programs, helps businesses hire interns through the Agricultural Workforce Development Program, collaborates with wine grape producers and winemakers to fund viticulture research and promote Colorado wines through the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, and administers the state’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for the benefit of Colorado’s fruit, vegetable, and green industry producers.
The Division of Plant Industry provides a broad range of programs related to consumer protection, protection of environmental and public health, and certification for the states’ organic industry and export of Colorado’s agricultural commodities. Plant Industry is committed to a better quality of life by serving the citizens of Colorado, improving the environment, providing consumer protection and assuring the integrity of agriculture and related industries. The division created the first certified hemp seed program in the nation and has been instrumental in developing an industrial hemp program seen as the industry leader.