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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Farm Bureau seeing local membership growth

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Norm Shetley of Delta holds his WWII uniform following his presentation at the 2016 annual meeting of the Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau held in Hotchkiss last week. At left is Don Shawcroft, president of Colorado Farm Burea

The Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau, one of the biggest and fastest growing Farm Bureau chapters in the state with 276 producer members, has once again placed high among state chapters with 13 new producer members in 2016.

That number was just one fewer than the 14 new members signed up by the state's largest Farm Bureau chapter in Weld County. The local Delta County chapter's 276 producer members makes it second in size only to Weld County's 342 producer members.

Last year, the Delta County chapter gained the most new members of any in the state. That achievement earned a dinner of steaks for local members compliments of the Colorado Farm Bureau at the Delta County F&LB annual meeting held Saturday at Hotchkiss.

The Delta County F&LB is a barometer of the true strength and importance of the agriculture sector here. Area representative Richard Connell told the meeting that he has helped host at least three of the top new member steak cookouts here in Delta County.

Olen Lund, chapter president, noted that Delta County's 12 delegate positions to the state convention Nov. 18-20 in Denver are all filled by local producers who will attend and help determine the Colorado Farm Bureau's position on a host of ag-related issues.

The Delta County F&LB has been an active supporter of agriculture through some controversial issues affecting agriculture in the county. Don Shawcroft of La Jara, president of Colorado Farm Bureau who attended last week's meeting in Hotchkiss, told the banquet attended, "You are making a difference because you are taking a stand."

Shawcroft gave attendees a brief outline of possible legislative changes in store for the state's beneficial use water doctrine. He said Colorado Farm Bureau would like to talk with any ag producers who have water uses, including decreed ones, going to recreation.

The Delta County Farm and Livestock Bureau was founded on Oct. 29, 1949, noted Lund in his address to the meeting. Records of the organization indicate that the following founding members were present at the beginning to be part of the Delta County FL&B long history of agriculture service: M.M. Carlson of Austin; John H. Hallocks of Delta -- Gunnison Valley; Orville Williams of Cedaredge; J.H. Williams of Cedaredge; Max Hotchkiss of Hotchkiss; Wm. J. Dodd of Delta -- Garnet Mesa; Floyd Beach of Delta -- California Mesa; and, B.J. Brown of Delta -- California Mesa.

Quoting from the organization's founding documents, Lund said the organization's original purposes remain the same as today: They are "to promote, protect, and represent the business, economic, social and education interests of the farmers and livestock producers of Delta County and to develop agriculture and livestock production."

Four of the local chapter's eight directors were returned to their posts for two-years. They are Shane Atchley, David Carney, Dave Whittlesey and Kenny Hines. They join continuing directors Lund, Chann Fogg, Dr. David Kuntz and Glenn Austin.

Attendees were entertained by guest speaker Norm Shetley of Delta. Lund introduced him as "Norm Shetley, a World War II veteran. In addition to serving in the European Theater of World War II, Norm taught school in Olathe and Delta and worked for the State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Norm is now retired and lives on California Mesa."

Shetley shared accounts from his 92 years of living and from some of his wartime experiences. He filled an appropriate and timely role at the meeting saying he would observe his 92nd birthday that same week on Nov. 11 -- Veteran's Day. And, with election season just winding down, he shared a timely observation about politicians that he was once told: "Politicians," he said, "are like longhorn cattle -- a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between."

Shetley also thanked the Delta County F&LB members "for being farmers."

Those providing the fine banquet meal received credit and thanks. Lund said, "Steaks are being provided by Colorado Farm Bureau as the reward for Delta County having the most new producer members in Colorado last year. Thank you CFB, and particularly Richard Connell for grilling those steaks. The rest of the meal is being provided by the Delta County F&LB.

"I want to express thanks to all who helped put this event on this evening. Particularly I want to thank Dave and Sue Whittlesey, Don and Tina Carney (in fact the whole Carney and Austin clan -- I'm not sure who did what) Eileen Hostetler and the Hostetler family [who provided a counter full of homemade pies that were enjoyed] and especially my wife, Debbie, who not only kept me on track but did most of the work. Thanks."

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