Colorado Agriculture Adaptability Roundtable 1
Diversification has long been an important strategy for farmers and ranchers. During the COVID-19 pandemic investing in multiple income sources has proven to be even more important.
Duke Phillips IV of Ranchlands, a Chico ranch and ranch management company participated in a virtual Roundtable on how agriculture can succeed in tough times, organized by the Department of Agriculture.
Phillips explained how the 4 generation ranch expanded into hospitality - hosting tourists interested learning more about the ranching lifestyle. HE says that brings income but also bridges the rural-urban gap and helps city dwellers appreciate the work that goes into the production of their food.
Phillips: “The other business that we diversified into is a leather mercantile. It started as just a saddle shop where we prepared our own gear. It’s snowballed into more of that. It's still a fledgling business. We do this typically for drought and market but the COVID kind of killed our hospitality in a big way. So that business is kind of reeling on it’s own. But, what we’ve really tried to focus on is retail, trying to build that business to keep the lights on and keep our bills paid and people happy.”
Philips says the COVID pandemic has laid bare some of the weaknesses in the company’s business plan and now they are focused on how to diversify sales channels even more.
Phillips: “Every possible diversification possible is going to be looked at.”
This was a first in a series of roundtable discussions focusing on agriculture in Colorado. Ag Commissioner Kate Greeberg and Rosalind May, Executive Director of the Colorado Farmers Markets Association were also on the panel.