George Whitten named regional assistant commissioner
RANCHER George Whitten has been appointed regional assistant commissioner of agriculture by Colorado Ag Commissioner Kate Greenburg. Whitten is one of two regional assistant commissioners named by Greenburg under a new structure she has created to help guide the work of the state ag department. The position is part-time. Jo Stanko of Steamboat Springs was also appointed to be a regional assistant ag commissioner.
“Agriculture, at its core, is about bringing people together to share our food and culture. Both Jo and George are respected community leaders who care deeply about preserving Colorado’s agricultural heritages while working proactively for the future,” said Greenberg. “As the first two regional assistant commissioners, Jo and George will lead the way to ensuring there is a direct line of communication between CDA and agricultural communities across the state as we face great challenges but also great opportunities to build resilience, drive profitability, and advance stewardship on behalf of Colorado agriculture.”
Whitten operates a grass-fed beef ranch in Saguache County and has been a member of the Rio Grande Water Conservation Subdistrict 5 board of managers. He has served one term on the Colorado Agricultural Commission, which expires in February 2023. He will resign his post as a member of the Agricultural Commission and begin as Regional Assistant Commissioner, effective February 6, 2023.
In late 2022, Greenberg created the new, part-time, remote positions to make it more feasible for working farmers and ranchers to be part of the CDA team. These new team members will further the department’s efforts in cultivating relationships with local agricultural communities by sharing the department’s priorities and available resources, helping guide CDA’s work to advance and support agriculture based on direct community input, and by creating a direct connection between rural communities and CDA.
The positions are part-time and remote, to allow the regional assistant commissioners to continue their work in agriculture and remain in their communities. They will work closely with the commissioner of agriculture and CDA’s senior team to help develop agricultural policy direction for the department on a state and national level.
Whitten was born into ranching in Saguache, Colorado. His grandfather W.E. Whitten established a sheep, cattle and farming operation in the Northern end of the San Luis Valley in 1893. Whitten has been actively involved in managing this ranching operation since 1973. He is knowledgeable in all phases of sheep and cattle production and specializes in grass finishing techniques, genetics, soil health, organic production and certification, restorative ranching practices and marketing.
For more than three decades, Whitten has been using holistic management principles on his ranch and is an advocate for regenerative soil practices across Colorado. Whitten has served on the Board of Directors of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District for more than 25 years. He is also a founding member and current president of Sweet Grass Co-op and together with his wife is a founding mentor of the Quivira Coalition New Agrarian Ranch agriculture apprentice program.