Wyoming Business Council carries out strategic planningWritten by Christy Hemken
“The board and staff have been working the last few months on a business plan for the Wyoming Business Council, and part of that is a strategic plan looking forward to what the Business Council should be doing in the next few years,” says WBC Agribusiness Division Director Cindy Garretson-Weibel.
The strategic plan contains three goals: people, business and places. In the “business” section, with a target of promoting business development that complements Wyoming’s assets, is included an increase of agriculture diversification and value-added agriculture.
Along with current programs and efforts, such as the Forage Promotion Program, Livestock Genetics Program and the Wyoming First Program, the plan lists some proposed programs and efforts, although Garretson-Weibel says it is by no means complete.
A few of the proposed efforts are a survey of food retailers and consumers regarding interest in purchasing Wyoming food and value-added ag products, exploration of a Wyoming-branded agriculture program, the development of an aggie bond program for beginning farmers and ranchers and incentives for producers to grow crops for alternative energy use.
“The list of proposed programs is not all-inclusive,” says Garretson-Weibel. “We’re hoping producers will show up and help us set the direction with the things with which they think the Business Council could help. We’d love to hear from them.”
Regarding the Wyoming-branded ag program, she says it will be a continuation of existing efforts, and that a funding request has been submitted to the legislature for a feasibility study. “We’re looking at everything from being able to source-identify Wyoming commodities like wheat and beef, as well as the value-added programs,” she says.
The WBC has been in touch with USDA regarding interstate meat shipment and Garretson-Weibel says the federal agency is working on drafting rules and regulations. “The best timeline they could give us for implementation was sometime after the first of the year. As soon as we know something we’ll help get the word out and facilitate whatever we can,” she says.
A bill that would move forward the aggie bond program has been drafted and has the support of the Joint Ag Committee. It will move through the legislative process this session.
Although the WBC has been working to educate crop producers on alternative crops for energy use, Garretseon-Weibel says there is currently no funding source to help them. “We’re looking to provide funding because producers are not as apt to try something new without a funding pool,” she says.
After the comment period the WBC staff will review and compile all comments received with a final recommendation for the board of directors at their December board meeting.
“This is a good opportunity in the 10th year for us to look at our direction again, and this is an opportunity for folks to comment, but anytime they have suggestions to better the ag community I’d like to hear them,” says Garretson-Weibel. “Please call and let us know what we can be doing to help Wyoming agriculture.”
“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for agriculture to weigh in on this strategic plan,” she says. “They have an opportunity to help direct the Council’s activities and I’d hope they take the opportunity.”