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2015 A Good Year For Wyoming Farmers and Ranchers


Sugar beet farmers in Wyoming are celebrating another record-breaking increase in production. In 2015, 13% more sugar beets were harvested in Wyoming for a total of 940,000 tons. It’s the seventh year in the last eight to break records. That’s according to Wyoming State Statistician Rhonda Brandt who says Wyoming has been growing sugar beets to process into sugar since at least the early 1900’s, but in the last decade, conditions have improved for farmers.

“Snow pack in the mountains has been good the last two or three year, so there’s been plenty of irrigation water,” she says. “Farmers are continually trying to find better ways to produce their crops, use water more efficiently.”

Brandt says 2015 was also good for livestock producers.

“The hog inventory went up 27%. You don’t normally think of hogs in Wyoming but they’re growing. And for the first time since 2006, the sheep and lamb numbers increased. They’re up three percent.”

Cattle increased 1% as well.

Winter wheat production was the big loser though. The amount of acreage put into production dropped 10%, the lowest it’s been since 1938. Brandt says that’s because the price of wheat has dropped so much around the globe. The number of acres in production for wheat dropped to 130,000 acres. Brandt says that’s less than half of what it was at its peak in 1952 when there were over 350,000 acres in wheat production.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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