Agriculture Production Contributes $2.526 Billion to Wyoming’s Economy as Legacy Meets Innovation

Agriculture Production Contributes $2.526 Billion to Wyoming’s Economy as Legacy Meets Innovation Main Photo

19 Mar 2024

The University of Wyoming College of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics reported that agriculture has a $2.526 billion impact on the state in 2021. There are more than 12,200 farms in Wyoming that use a combined 29 million acres to raise livestock and grow crops. Cattle and hay have the biggest production value: there were 1.25 million head of cattle and calves and 940,000 acres of hay harvested each year.

“Wyoming communities are made up of farmers and ranchers who are responsible for feeding America,” says Brett Kahler, Executive Director of Wyoming Economic Development Association (WEDA). “The agriculture industry does so much for the state economy and is the backbone of many local communities.”

While all of these numbers are impressive, they don’t paint a picture of why agriculture in Wyoming is thriving. That’s where Jill Tregemba, Agribusiness Development Manager for the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) comes in.  

“Agriculture is the foundation of our state,” says Tregemba. “There is plenty of wide-open space, clean air, and fresh water.”

To celebrate National Agriculture Month in March, view Wyoming ranching and farming through Tregemba’s eyes. See what excites her about this industry and how Wyoming producers are investing in their futures.

Ranching and Farming is a Multi-Generational Business

Agribusiness ownership is often passed on through the generations in Wyoming. The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office has a Centennial Farm & Ranch program to celebrate families who have owned and operated the same farms for more than 100 years. So far, more than 260 families have been honored through the program. The SHPO also keeps a yearbook where you can read about these farmers and hear their stories.

“Ranching and farming are a legacy in Wyoming,” says Tregemba. “It’s a big part of who we are. It’s been fun to see the innovation happening across families as the next generation explores new ways to run the family business.”

Tregemba says that a lot of AgTech innovations are coming straight from these families as they look for ways to improve their operations.  

Wyoming Leads the Country in Agriculture R&D

Speaking of AgTech, Wyoming is a leader in plant science and agricultural development. Wyoming’s trade schools, community colleges, and the University of Wyoming accept students with farming and ranching backgrounds who are interested in leading Wyoming into the future of agriculture. Here are just a few highlights:

  • The University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station is unlike any department of its kind. Researchers work with producers throughout the year to learn more about agriculture and test ways to do it better.  
  • The Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) offers a precision agriculture program through Eastern Wyoming College that teaches current and future farmers to grow crops with greater efficiency. This promotes environmental sustainability.
  • Laramie will soon be home to the world’s largest vertical farming research center by Plenty Unlimited Inc., creating nearly 200 jobs in the community. 
  • In a partnership with the University of Wyoming (UW), WyoTech supports students entering the automotive side of agriculture. These future mechanics will help farmers extend the use of their equipment, helping them save money.

Each of these programs works directly with Wyoming operations to understand their pain points, and then take steps to develop processes and technology that will overcome them.  

Local ProducersEmbrace Ranch-to-Table Trends

Wyoming farmers and ranchers are proud of the food they produce and want to tell their stories. The WBC is developing programs to make this possible. In 2023, it announced the launch of Wyoming Table where people can search for specific products made in Wyoming. This allows visitors to purchase their favorite products while empowering residents to support local farmers.

“We’ve seen increased demand from buyers all over the world who are looking for more ranch-to-table and locally sourced options, and this directory is designed to connect them to our amazing Wyoming producers, all in one place,” said Tregemba when announcing the program.

This trend of wanting to buy local products and connect with the people who source food for America can also impact tourism in Wyoming. There are opportunities for agritourism and farm stays where visitors can learn what working on a ranch is like. Visitors spent $4.7 billion in Wyoming in 2023 and the agriculture industry can play a role in bringing people to the state.  

Support Agriculture in Your Community by Joining WEDA

Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers support the state economy and the American food supply as a whole. Our job is to support them.

“WEDA offers support for organizations engaging in economic development across Wyoming to equip them with resources and programs to benefit their communities,” says Kahler. “From housing to healthcare, we want to help Wyoming meet the needs of its residents.”

Through education, training, and advocacy, we can make your economic development efforts more effective. Learn more about WEDA and join today. Your local farmers and ranchers are counting on you.