New Colorado ag commissioner sets priorities, starting with supporting the next generation of farmers

A state map on Kate Greenberg’s office wall is dotted with stick pins: red for where she’s been and blue for where she’s going.

“I have to add some more pins,” Greenberg said after taking a closer look at the map.

As state agriculture commissioner, Greenberg wants to travel to as many places as possible. She has also mapped out a set of four major priorities and relishes detailing them.

“Are you ready for the next one?” Greenberg asks as she dives into discussing her priorities. “Are you ready for No. 3? Are you ready for No. 4?”

The road Greenberg traveled to her new job as Colorado ag commissioner is different from most of her immediate predecessors, many of whom grew up farming and ranching. Greenberg did not.

Besides her background, Greenberg is different from her predecessors in an even more fundamental way. She is the first woman to hold the job in the state’s history.

Greenberg grew up in Minnesota, was around agriculture and had friends and neighbors who farmed and ranched. However, it wasn’t until she moved to eastern Washington state that she farmed and ranched herself. There and in western Washington, Greenberg raised vegetables and livestock on community-supported farms. While with the Sonoran Institute, Greenberg worked with communities on restoration projects and managed greenhouse operations.

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Most recently, Greenberg was the Western Program Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, working on water issues and based in Durango. She graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., with a degree in environmental studies-humanities.

“I’ve always loved and worked on behalf of the outdoors, natural world,” Greenberg said. “The piece that really shifted when I came West was realizing the work people put in behind the scenes.