Plan Overview


10.1.1. Cooperative efforts and fuller utilization of infrastructure and assets.
Create and continually update a database of existing agricultural and food supply chain firms and integrate the information into a visible and navigable web-based platform.
Develop cooperative knowledge sharing, network programming and events across the food system.
Encourage existing farmers and/or land owners to lease underutilized property to Young, Beginning, or Small (YBS) or veteran producers.
Engage OEDIT to take a more active role in matching infrastructure assets to food businesses, particularly in rural parts of the State.
Streamline the regulatory and paperwork burden of food supply chain co-packing relationships in the State.
Encourage fuller utilization of existing infrastructure before providing tax incentives or other public support for new brick and mortar investments.
Supply Chain Infrastructure; Food Aggregation & Food Hubs; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, or Small (YBS) Farmers; Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination
10.1.2. Frame zoning, market, and tax incentives to target early-stage farm, ranch and food business development.Work with retailers and government food procurement policies to feature beginning and veteran farms/ranches and emerging food businesses in their buy local promotion programs.
Create a portfolio of government-based incentives that support Colorado farms and food businesses, but also serve other public interests garnering strong citizen support – leasing land, donations to food relief organizations, agricultural utilization of open space.
Develop markets (including local procurement by public entities) and increase access to existing mar kets with promotions that benefit early-stage farm and food businesses and reflect local conditions.
Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, or Small (YBS) Farmers; Good/Local Food Economies; Producer Market Access; Small Business Support; Local Brand Promotion; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies

10.1.3. Customize business programs and technical assistance in recognition that different places face different barriers to success.

Work with DOLA and other county, regional, and statewide planning and economic development offices to target agricultural and food system interventions likely to work in their community.
Conduct a feasibility study of establishing public markets in Denver and Colorado Springs (and other population centers) that focus on showcasing Colorado agriculture, including its heritage.
Assess the potential to bring short- and mid-haul rail transport back in key parts of the state, including support for shared aggregation and marketing to achieve greater economies of scale.
Encourage existing and new industry associations as business capacity builders, resources and champions for business stakeholders (e.g., CFVGA, Colorado Cattleman’s Association, Colorado Corn Growers Association).

Supply Chain Infrastructure; Food Transport; Food Aggregation & Food Hubs; Good/Local Food Economies; Producer Market Access; Regional Coordination; Good Food Governance; Regional Collaboration; Food System Coordination; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning
10.2.1. Develop and promote agricultural and food curriculum and life skills well suited for diverse learners and all stages of education.Expand 4H and FFA programming to nontraditional agricultural regions/households including urban
and underserved communities, and developing and integrating curriculum that aligns with employment trends in the food industry.
Support FFA and 4H programming that prepares youth for careers in ag technology
Explore how Colorado Education Standards could integrate knowledge of food systems in science and social studies content areas.
Invest in more widely scoped food systems based training programs in high school as well as at the community college and University levels.
Expand farm to school programming throughout the state, integrating food systems education.
Workforce Development; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); School Curricula; University Programs; Equity & Justice
10.2.2. Support innovative training, outreach and continuing educational approaches to transitioning workers into agriculture in all life stages.Assess the outcomes from mentoring, incubation, apprenticeship, and rehabilitation programs to identify best practices and remaining gaps. Assessment should include understanding of ongoing programs outside the state that could be replicated in Colorado.
Expand farmworker training and beginning farmer programs – including beginning, midcareer and advanced programs, as well as those that support urban agriculture and veteran training.
Create more opportunities for new farmers and ranchers to serve on Boards and in key leadership posts as a form of professional development. This should also include educating these producers about the importance of engaging in the policy process.
Workforce Development; Training & Education; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Leadership/Staffing
10.2.3. Strengthen connections between allied youth development and workforce programs.Develop projects and programs that would introduce those with only minimal background in agriculture, but with allied interests, to career opportunities in agriculture and food systems.
Assess how ongoing correction facilities vocational programs (including those in Pueblo, the North east, and Canon City) have met current labor needs, and prepared those released from facilities to have career opportunities in the agricultural and food sectors.
Support additional career guidance and technical assistance to access available federal educational resources and workforce training opportunities for veterans in the agricultural and food sectors.
Workforce Development; Training & Education; Equity & Justice
10.3.1. Promote Colorado food and ag businesses through developing market opportunities.Promote regional food festivals through regional and statewide tourism offices throughout the
state, nationally, and internationally, including a matching grant program for destination development
Invest in targeted agritourism promotion to outdoor recreation tourists, second home owners and retirees, and those interested in the heritage of Colorado as a promotional and educational tool.
Support and enhance buyer-grower roundtables, as well as
food and agricultural trade shows across the state, especially for retailers interested in promoting and featuring Colorado branded products through visible, year-round retail displays
Supply Chain Infrastructure; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Good/Local Food Economies; Local brand promotion; Regional Coordination; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies; Food System Coordination; Regional Collaboration
10.3.2. Better position Colorado agricultural and food firms to exploit changing consumer and market trends.Investigate the potential of a transparent, strong, and clear brand/message for CO grown and processed products.
Create business development programming to support enhanced opportunities for product differen tiation where consumer demand exists, including new crops and cultivars, value added products, and new labeling.
Explore how school and institutional buyer procurement policies, nutrition standards, and propensity to buy raw goods may support or deter local sourcing.
Continue support for joint marketing and promotion programs within and across commodity groups, including CO Proud as a flagship brand.
Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Good/Local Food Economies; Public Procurement; Local brand promotion; Regional Coordination
10.3.3. Support enhanced consumer education around the Colorado brand.Continue promoting CO Proud as a means to educate consumers about Colorado grown and raised products.
Find opportunities to educate and integrate chefs into local sourcing given that Chefs are trusted influencers for a segment of food buyers.
Begin consumer education early through curriculum that leverages farm to school, as well as school and community garden programs targeted towards youth and families.
Integrate cooking education programming with food access programming, including Double Up Food Bucks and Farm to School programs to meet both food security and economic development goals.
Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; School Curricula; Good/Local Food Economies; Public Procurement; Local brand promotion; Food Security; Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Nutrition & Health; Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.)
10.4.1. Work to ensure the regulatory environment is fair and effective in meeting its goals.Assess how food safety requirements, environmental protection, zoning, and labor regulations affect the competitiveness and ability to innovate among farmers, food processors, restaurants, food banks, direct markets and retailers.
Disallow or discourage non-compete clauses for retail food establishments, particularly in rural areas,
to protect market access in less densely populated or underserved areas.
Continue to provide training and technical assistance to alleviate the burden of regulatory compliance for young, beginning, and small entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers, and food businesses.
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Business Regulations; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Food Security; Food Availability (Retailers); Retail Zoning; Retail Market Access; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning
10.4.2. Support state level initiatives that leverage federal programs and resources.Improve enrollment of eligible Coloradans in federal nutrition assistance programs.
Simplify the application for Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.), and other food assistance programs for retailers and provide more counseling and education to help with the burden of the application. This could include expand ing Hunger Free Colorado’s program in this area.
Invest in a statewide center for beginning farmer and rancher development and a one-stop shop for Federal and State resources geared towards the next generation of producers.
Improve awareness of federal grant, loan and technical assistance programs that could manage risk, share costs and bolster support for the state’s food and agricultural sector, including rural infrastruc ture.
Advocate for standardized best practices throughout the state to ensure that business processes and access to support programs is uniform regardless of the county in which an eligible participant applies.
Use the CO Food Policy Network (COFPN) and local government partners to develop and facilitate healthy markets and retailers in communities that can and do accept Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.), and Double Up Food Bucks, tracking locally-grown and processed products in the state via new metrics, and pursuing strategies that jointly consider economic development and health outcomes.
Engage government in addressing enrollment gap for food assistance including reviewing opportu nities to adopt state options that expand eligibility to more Coloradans and reduce the risk-reward gap for applying and enrolling in support programs.
Create public will for change among nonprofits, public officials, and academic partners in by leverag ing work from the Colorado Health Foundation’s existing statewide task force, and advocate for clear measurable objectives and outcomes.
Encourage community partners to amplify messaging regarding eligibility criteria and enrollment process so that organizations across the state can help publicize and navigate nutrition programs for eligible Coloradans experiencing hunger.
Support the clear goals and measurable outcomes of the emerging Blueprint to End Hunger in Colo rado that will address the enrollment gap in programs such as SNAP and WIC.
Raise awareness amongst farmers and ranchers, as well as all scales of retailers about the economic benefits to the state of having higher participation in Federal food programs such as SNAP.
Food Security; Food Access (consumer); Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Nutrition & Health; Availability; Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Good Food Governance; Regional Collaboration; Advocacy; Networks/Bodies/Council (FPCs); Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning
10.4.3. Develop and refine policies that incentivize innovations along the value chain.Develop competitive funding programs and prizes that help to spur research and the creation of food and ag products for widespread use.
Create a mini-grant program housed in DOLA, OEDIT, and/or CDA to incentivize municipalities to inte
grate agriculture and food into their local land use plans, building upon existing community assets.
Assess the potential for educational loan forgiveness for targeted employment needs in rural areas, similar to recent support for rural veterinarians. Targeted areas could be based on persistent poverty, declining populations, or high cost of living in adjacent amenity-rich areas.
Continue programs that offer tax incentives for land owners leasing to new/beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as loan repayment programs with favorable terms for producers.
Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Land Access; Financing/Affordability, Land; Labor/Food Workers; Workforce Development; Training & Education; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies; Research & Innovation
10.5.1. Provide technical assistance and business support services for all scales of agriculture and food firms.Develop pitch competitions, mentorship opportunities, and co-working spaces for new food business es such that they can take advantage of economies of agglomeration.
Provide market research, outreach, and mentoring programs to improve the viability of farms and food businesses by scale, commodity, and market channel. This should include careful documenta tion of successes to promote best practices, successful business models and key benchmark metrics.
Support succession planning both for farm families and veterans interested in taking over an existing farm or food business operation. This should include finding opportunities to build equity prior to tak ing over the operation.
Deliver education and technical assistance programming for food safety training, risk management, taxes, human resources, and other paperwork to support smaller scale farms and ranches (example: replicate Kentucky’s MarketReady Training).
Continue to provide cottage food training for nascent food businesses, including continual evaluation of curriculum based on technological advances and changes in regulation, and integration of busi ness planning principles.
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Regional Coordination; Land Access; Financing/Affordability, Land; Preserving Farmland; Workforce Development; Training & Education; Entrepreneurship; Food Safety; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Research & Innovation; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support
10.5.2. Ensure appropriately-scaled, economically-viable assets are in place to support all scales of agricultural and food firms.COFSAC should provide leadership on a white paper on the economics of small scale meat process ing to distribute to communities. Almost every regional townhall discussed the need for additional small scale meat processing, but there may be opportunities to leverage existing processing infra structure without additional capital investments.
Support regional food testing and certification labs that provide food safety, quality assurance, and other key business services for all scales of food and ag businesses, including the beverage sector
Continue to support collaboration between CSU Quality Meats Lab, Extension, CSU Vet Med, CDA and others to encourage safe and economically-viable small-scale poultry processing regulation in the state
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Regional Coordination; Food Safety; Good Food Governance; Research & Innovation
10.6.1. Nurture an environment where Colorado is a leader in several subsectors of agricultural technology.Create financing and incentive programs at the local and state levels to nurture regional industry clusters in a variety of sectors.
Document available infrastructure (for example, co-packers or sensory labs) that might provide shared access to entrepreneurs during their start up phases.
Land & Resource Use; Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination; Supply Chain Infrastructure; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies; Regional Collaboration
10.6.2. Enhance education, outreach and networking to investor community so that they understand opportunities to provide capital in the agricultural innovation space.Replicate investor network, including educational and outreach opportunities in two other locations throughout the State.
Provide statewide matching grant program (through OEDIT) to leverage investment in key food and agricultural sectors, particularly for startups.
Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination; Small Business Support; Good Food Governance; Public Private Partnerships; Funding & Investment Strategies
10.6.3. Support curriculum, youth and workforce development programs that provide the skills and experiential learning for the jobs that will be available in both the entrepreneurial and high tech sectors of food and agriculture.Support collaborations between 4H, FFA, and the tech industry to foster innovative curriculum development in ag tech that reflect where careers in this sector will be in high demand.
Emphasize that the use of technology in agricultural 4H and FFA curriculum, as technological inno vation may be more likely to retain youth. Opportunities exist to jointly honor Colorado’s traditional primary agriculture industries, while understanding new sectoral career opportunities and entrepre neurial business models.
Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination; Workforce Development; Entrepreneurship; Training & Education
10.7.1. Facilitate relationships between young, beginning, small (YBS) and veteran farmers and ranchers and lending institutions with YBS programs and/or nontraditional fundraising.Educate farmers and ranchers about loan programs geared to small-scale farmers and ranchers.
Provide resources to agricultural lenders so that they better understand realistic price premiums associated with non-commodity markets, as well as enterprise budgets, which can support sound lend ing decisions for YBS farmers and ranchers. This likely includes continuing CSU Extension and CDA’s price reporting program for local food markets.
Track farms and ranches using new insurance products to understand the financial implications of these products and producer investments and provide information to loan officers.
Showcase successful YBS-lender relationships at annual meetings of agricultural commodity groups.
Encourage statewide loan officers to attend Farm Credit’s YBS loan officer convenings.
Embed educational opportunities about nontraditional fundraising into beginning farmer and rancher programming.
Land Access; Financing/Affordability, Land; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Food System Coordination
10.7.2. Create more transparent and flexible funding/financing models to support new and emerging business ventures along the food supply chain.Develop list of food business funding resources that could support emerging Colorado-based food businesses (expanding upon: funding.pdf)
Host networking opportunities and pitch competitions to facilitate relationships between small and emerging food businesses and potential funders and financers.
Promote ‘preparing for financing’ events for small and mid-scale entrepreneurs, similar to what is already offered by Naturally Boulder (see: nancing/)
Expand investment efforts and increase availability of flexible funding and financing of agriculture and fresh retail options, particularly in rural and underserved communities.
Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination; Small Business Support; Workforce Development; Entrepreneurship; Supply Chain Infrastructure; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies; Food System Coordination
10.7.3. Conserve, invest in and provide access to natural capital (land and water) for YBS farmers and ranchers.Work with local municipalities, nonprofits, and land conservation districts in places where there are large numbers of second homeowners or retirees to explore opportunities to better link YBS farms and ranches with access to potentially underutilized land and water resources.
Improve communication among land trusts, and between land trusts and future farmers and ranchers.
Investigate the potential for enhanced utilization of publicly owned land for active farming and ranch ing working lands, and just not just for open space, addressing multiple public issues and goals
Explore and evaluate the viability of cooperative and innovative land ownership models (such as Pou dre Valley Community Farms).
Invest in soil, water saving, technology to preserve the integrity of Colorado’s natural resource base
Land Access; Financing/Affordability, Land; Farmland Zoning & regulations; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Young, Beginning, and Small (YBS) Farmers; Land & Resource Use; Water Use; Sustainable Agriculture; Conservation & Land Management
10.8.1. Research and refine how land conservation policies influence farm viability, water transfers, community development, and quality of life of Coloradans.Explore how public attitudes about agriculture as a quality of life driver may also influence the appearance and passage of open space referendum, support for CO agricultural programs, and propensity to buy CO products.
Identify where open space and other conservation efforts are innovating ways to retain and manage shared access to sufficient water for some working lands production
Inventory current conservation practices by land type and geographic location.
Access and document where land is currently protected, or not
Land Access; Farmland Zoning & regulations; Land & Resource Use; Water use; Good Food Governance; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Research & Innovation
10.8.2. Improve access to healthy, affordable food for Colorado families who are low-income.Conduct research and evaluation of current strategies to improve healthy food access (transport, financial incentives, food offerings, corner stores, mobile markets, rural grocers, community food cellar, prescription programs, mobile farmers markets) and refine programming based on results.
Lower the barriers and provide incentives and technical assistance for a variety of markets to procure local products, accept food assistance programming, and participate in food recovery partnerships. Double Up SNAP has been effective, but the majority of markets still cannot accept food assistance
Reframe food recovery and food waste programs so that both economic development and food secu rity goals are addressed.
Assess and pilot food additional RX programs (a prescription program piloted on the West Slope), as well as double up buck program availability at rural markets to assess both whether participants are healthier and whether purchases made influence local direct markets.
Coordinate food bank purchases from local sources, tax incentives to those who donate, and effec tive/efficient gleaning programs so as to increase healthy food access at food banks and pantries.
Improve coordination and communication across key food system stakeholders in the state, partic ularly focused on economic development, food access, and healthy communities (environmental and public health). This can be done through working with philanthropic organizations to create a data base of programming and financing provide to farm and food based orgs (could be through Commu nity Commons).
Connect more retailers with food rescue and redistribution organizations through partnerships and policies that incentivize donations.
Food Waste; Nutrition & Health; Food as Medicine; Food Availability; Retailer Market Access; Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Food Security; Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.); Good/Local Food Economies; Regional Coordination; Small Business Support; Good Food Governance; Regional Collaboration; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Funding & Investment Strategies; Research & Innovation; Food System Coordination; Public Private Partnerships
10.8.3. More strongly connect Colorado citizens with Colorado foods while also raising their awareness of its potential benefits to their health, economy, and community.Continue to update value chain, Community Commons, and Blueprint studies, integrating staff and planning processes of state agencies, industry organization, nonprofits, and CSU so as to track progress on key metrics that Coloradans note are important to their quality of life.
Support and expand programs that highlight the faces of Colorado agriculture to the general public, including Colorado Proud, CSU Ag day, programming at the National Western Centers, and programs that integrate healthy food with Colorado grown products such as Farm to School, Double Up Food Bucks, and Cooking Matters.
Highlight unique food cultures, heritages, and regions that make up the Colorado agricultural and food landscape through strengthening rural-urban linkages.
Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Good/Local Food Economies; Public procurement; Local brand promotion; Regional Coordination; Good Food Governance; Regional Collaboration; Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning; Food System Coordination

Plan Information

Category Database entry
Plan RegionColorado
Publication Date2017
Entry reviewed by original authorYes
PDF attachmentView Full Report
Plan TitleThe Colorado Blueprint of Agriculture and Food
AuthorsDawn Thilmany McFadden, Becca Jablonski, and Gregory Graff for the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station via Colorado State University.
Author Type University
Region Type State
Funding Sources for Plan Development State University; State Government; Non-profit organizations/entities
Plan FundersPrimary funder: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station 
Support from other partners: Colorado Department of Agriculture; LiveWell Colorado; CO Food Systems Advisory Council; Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development; College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU; CSU Office of Engagement; CSU Extension and Outreach Food System 
Total Project FundingApproximately $140,000 for the entire plan.
Plan GoalsThis document outlines eight central objectives as a means to “support community and economic development” across Colorado (pg. v). Their objectives are as follows, and were built upon six outlined “economic development issues that were laid out by the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT)” (pg. vi).:
1. Creating, retaining, and recruiting agricultural and food firms;
2. Developing workforce and youth to support agricultural and food sectors;
3. Promoting the Colorado brand, ensuring it reflects the unique qualities of the agriculture and food sectors;
4. Supporting a business- and consumer-friendly regulatory environment;
5. Addressing how scale impacts market performance, access, and opportunities;
6. Innovating and supporting new technology for agricultural and food businesses;
7. Improving access to resources and capital for agriculture and food firms;
8. Integrating agriculture and food with healthy, vibrant communities.
Intended AudiencePolicy makers, general public, and funders
Plan Recommendation StructureThis 2017 project provides an economic overview of Colorado’s agricultural value chain, with a final section on “cross-cutting issues” that includes recommendations to support community and economic development. The information within this project is outlined as follows: 
1) A blueprint of CO agriculture and food value chains; 
2) Legal forms, numbers, and specialization of CO farms and ranches; 
3) Inputs to production agriculture, including human capital, land and water capital, physical and financial capital; 
4) Outputs to production agriculture, such as crops, animals, services and revenues; 
5) Commodity marketing, processing, and manufacturing; 
6) Wholesale; 
7) Consumers and retail value chains; 
8) Industry structure and scale; 
9) Colorado communities;
10) Cross-cutting issues, which includes eight areas of growth and improvement within CO value chains and 2 -3 strategies to reach each growth area. 
Catalyst for PlanUpgrading the 2013 Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture to include broader community input and upgraded data.
Reorganization of the Governor’s Food Systems Advisory Council and internal food systems pieces at Colorado State University/Agricultural Experiment Station. 
Creation ProcessThis 2017 project updates and significantly expands on the 2013 Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture (see Supplemental Documents) to expand its reach and include a larger set of stakeholders and information. In order to do so, this project’s methodology includes: 
1. An update on economic data and a deeper exploration of the Value Chain of Colorado;
2.  An integration of results from the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s 2016 Public Attitudes survey on Agriculture in Colorado;
3. Community Engagement:  13 regional town hall meetings/listening sessions, including 250 individuals representing 148 organizations. Four industry town hall meetings including 110 attendees, representing 47 organizations. Ten public presentations, including 25-250 participants. Post public outreach, 395 individuals requested continued involvement in the creation of this project. Each of the regional listening sessions also involved compiling and reviewing all regional reports then preparing new individual regional reports.
Theoretical Framework  N/A
Theoretical Framework: LiteratureUnspecified
Development Timeline1 year
Implementation StrategyUnspecified
Implementation TimelineUnspecified
Evaluation StrategyUnspecified
Current Plan StatusUnknown
Government Adoption StatusUnknown
Government Adoption Status (Notes)N/A
Supplemental Documents (to be attached within the AirTable)View Supplemental Documents