Exceptional contributors to ag industry honored

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WHEATLAND — The Platte County Chamber of Commerce, Platte County Repair, and Basin Electric Cooperative hosted the 25th Annual Ag Appreciation Banquet on Saturday night at the Agriplex to honor exceptional ag industry contributors and businesses in Platte County. 

Representative (R) Jeremy Haroldson opened the banquet with prayer and a statement saying, “We are an amazing county that produces amazing things.” The evening was dedicated to all of Platte County’s farmers and ranchers and their families. 

Kit West recognized various businesses for their impact in Platte County. Superior Contracting was named Business of the Year with ten or more employees, Western Coffee was honored as Business of the Year with fewer than ten employees. Ruth Herdt was named Volunteer of the Year, and Linda Fabian was honored with the Spirit of Platte County award, although she was not present. 

Holly Allison presented the 2023 Ag Business of the Year award to Mill Iron L Meats, owners Colt and Leah Thayer, and Karen Thayer. Mill Iron L Meats is a local meat processing facility focusing on Farm-to-Table beef with a promise of freshness, ethical practices, and sustainability. In addition, they also contribute to addressing food insecurity in Platte County by working with the Food Bank of the Rockies. 

Dr. Steve Paisley was the evening’s keynote speaker. Paisley lives on a centennial ranch north of Wheatland with Platte County native Carrie Paisley, who’s ranching roots date back to 1888. Paisley has been the Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) located near Lingle since 2019.  He highlighted the attributes of Wyoming’s unique wide-open spaces as one of the state’s most important assets. “There are 97,000 square miles in Wyoming, and 580,000 people. That’s six people per square mile,” he said. “There are 670,000 cows in Wyoming. That’s seven cows per square mile.” The cattle have us outnumbered by one-per-square-mile! 

“We are so fortunate that this attribute still holds true.” However, Paisley also acknowledged the unique challenges that each farm and ranch operation faces. “Each operation has a unique set of resources, and there are increasing costs:  equipment, fuel, machinery. These factors can make remaining in the industry a challenge.” Paisley also explained that the average age of ag and ranch operators (last census 2012) was 54 years of age. “Transferring the heritage and tradition is another challenge. We have the responsibility of not only feeding the population in our country, but of feeding the population in other countries,” Paisley added. “Countries such as Korea and Japan add $150-200 per animal for those exports. “The demand for our product is high, exports are high and we continue to grow. We are currently producing 23.8 billion pounds of beef in the USA.” Paisley praised the continuing contributions of the ag and ranch community in Platte County.

A silent auction also took place with a variety of gift packages and services on the docket, provided by Platte County Chamber members. Money raised through the silent auction benefits continuing education scholarships for graduating Platte County students. 

The evening’s meal was catered by Dinner Bell Catering, with a cash bar by Guadalajara Family Mexican Restaurant, with music provided by Dj Magik. The Guernsey-Sunrise Skills USA Chapter donated the winner’s plaque, and Platte County Chamber members volunteered and donated to make the banquet a complete success.