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Annual Colorado W.I.F.E. Convention Held in Lamar

Kerry Froese

Colorado Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE) held their annual state convention in Lamar, Colorado on October 6, 2017 at the Lamar Community Building. The convention business meeting began just after 1 pm with Colorado WIFE President Cathy Scherler, Sheridan Lake, Colorado, calling the meeting to order. Several members were in attendance and guest speaker Colorado State Representative HD 64 and WIFE member Kimmi Lewis from Kim, Colorado joined the meeting later on.

Colorado WIFE Secretary Freda Schmidt from Towner, Colorado read the minutes from the 2016 Colorado WIFE Convention as well as the minutes from the June conference call. Copies of the minutes were disbursed to all members via e-mail prior to the meeting and hard copies were given to all members in attendance. Minutes were approved. Colorado WIFE Treasurer Jenifer Felzien from Sterling, Colorado gave the treasurer’s report and the report was approved.

Correspondence from the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture was read that included a thank you for sponsoring two teachers to the Food, Fiber & More Summer Agriculture Institute in 2017. Two thank you notes were also received from the two teachers that Colorado WIFE sponsored for the seminar. The seminar is held during the summer and is offered to Colorado teachers that have no background or little experience with agriculture. In 2018, Colorado WIFE approved sponsoring one teacher and also approved sponsoring a classroom to receive the Colorado Readers which is an informational newsletter that is disbursed 7 times throughout the school year that is given to the students about different aspects of agriculture.

Reports from National WIFE Officers from Colorado were given by National WIFE President Kerry Froese from La Junta, Colorado as well as National WIFE Treasurer Jenifer Felzien. National WIFE has several projects underway including a pink pumpkin community awareness project to honor those affected by breast cancer; a quilt fundraiser that members are selling tickets for and a new cookbook coming soon. The upcoming 41st Annual National WIFE Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming on November 9 – 11, 2017 was also discussed. Other reports were given highlighting the 2016 National WIFE Convention; the National WIFE Legislative Affairs Conference in Washington DC from March 2017 and the National WIFE Board of Directors conference call held in June 2017. Chapter reports were also given from Kiowa County WIFE Chapter #124 President Phyllis Nelson, Eads, Colorado and Sterling WIFE Chapter # 5 President Jenifer Felzien.

Officer reports as well as commodity and issue reports were given covering several topics. During the 2017 Colorado Legislative Session, WIFE members testified at the Capitol on behalf of Colorado WIFE in favor of HB17-1065 “Clarify Requirements Formation Metropolitan District”; HB17-1066 “Conservation Easement Tax Credit Landowner Relief” and HB17-1234 “Beef Country Of Origin Retail Placard”. HB17-1065 was passed unanimously out of committee and was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on March 23, 2017. The bill was sponsored by Representative Kimmi Lewis and Senator Vicki Marble clarifying the requirements for the formation of metropolitan districts while protecting vast areas of agricultural land from being taxed in the metropolitan districts. HB17-1066 and HB17-1234 both were postponed indefinitely in committee.

Guest speaker Colorado Representative Kimmi Lewis updated WIFE members on the latest news pertaining to rural hospitals and wind and solar energy developments in Southeast Colorado as well as across the eastern part of the state. She informed attendees about the special session held the first week in October and her plans for the upcoming session that begins on January 10, 2018. Representative Lewis is a member of the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee as well as the Public Health Care and Human Services committee and is the only true agricultural producer on the Ag. committee.

Other new business discussed included a WIFE calendar for 2019; hosting the 2018 National WIFE Convention; and the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts upcoming annual meeting held in Loveland, Colorado. Colorado WIFE approved sending member Jillane Hixson from Lamar, Colorado to attend the meeting and see if this is an event Colorado WIFE would sponsor in the future. The Governor’s Ag Forum that will be held in February, 2018 was also discussed.

New business for National WIFE was discussed including proposed changes to the bylaws and procedure manual that were presented by North Dakota WIFE. Colorado WIFE passed three resolutions that will be presented at the National WIFE Convention in November including topics on electronic identification for beef cattle; electronic logging devices (ELDs) for livestock haulers and industrial hemp as a schedule 1 drug.

The election of officers and commodity and issue chair positions was held and President Cathy Scherler, Vice President Kerry Froese and Board of Directors (North) Jenifer Felzien were all reelected. The other officer’s terms will expire in 2018.

Other business included the discussion of the Ag Council that meets every two weeks at the Capitol and hosts Ag Day in March at the Capitol.

Following the meeting, members took home pink pumpkins grown by Jacob & Kerry Froese to deliver to community members that are breast cancer survivors, are currently fighting or to the family of the loved one that lost the battle. Pumpkins are also available for sale for $5.00 each to anyone wanting to support the breast cancer awareness project. Kiowa County WIFE Chapter # 124 is participating in the National WIFE Pink Pumpkin Community Awareness Project and has donated or sold over 100 pumpkins so far.