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FARM SCENE: Subdivisions replacing farmland in Colorado town

December 27, 1996

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) _ Twice since 1970, farmer Dave Stephens has sold a farm on the edge of town and moved a few miles west. He may have to move again.

A crop of new homes is growing around Stephens and other farmers on Greeley’s west side.

Subdivisions are commonly divided by fields turned golden brown with the stubble of last year’s crop. Cattle graze next to towering new houses.

Stephens hopes to pass on his 200-acre farm to his son, but he said selling a third time may be ``inevitable.″

``I guess you need to move to Grover or Briggsdale to get away from the growth,″ he said, referring to remote towns northeast of Greeley and Fort Collins.

Most of Greeley’s residential growth is on the west side _ overlooking the Rocky Mountains, about 50 miles north of Denver and 15 miles east of Fort Collins.

And the steady growth shows no signs of tapering off.

Last week, the City Council gave initial approval to a 231-acre annexation, Greeley’s largest in five years, said Rebecca Safarik, director of community development. Earlier in the year, the city annexed the 160-acre Poudre River Ranch. Both sites are on the west side.

Greeley residents have voiced little opposition to growth, Safarik said, although some are concerned about whether the growth is paying for the increased demands on city services.

Greeley’s growth is being fueled by the same availability of good land and water that made farming and ranching vital parts of the community, said Jim Smith, a retired teacher and former city council member.

``The water that used to go on corn is now going to houses,″ Smith said.

Dennis Hoshiko, owner of Hoshiko Farms/North Weld Produce Co., said the day may come when his family’s 2,000 acres, which has been farmed since 1910, could be sold.

``Agriculture is not in the best shape,″ Hoshiko said. ``We want to have as many options as we can with our property. If everyone were making a wonderful living at farming, this wouldn’t be happening.″

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HEBRON, Wis. (AP) _ A move by some dairy farmers to protest declining milk prices by banning snowmobilers from their land has come under fire by some of their neighboring farmers.

They say a positive, not negative, approach is needed.

So Jefferson County farmers have made signs that read: ``Welcome. Enjoy your travel across our land. Please promote dairy products.″

``We thought we needed people on our side,″ said Hebron dairy farmer Dave Hack of Hack Farms Inc.

``I was afraid we were just going to get a negative response out of snowmobilers and hunters if we tried to tell them that they have to stay off of our land.″

Snowmobilers cross about 200 acres of Hack Farms Inc. land.

Wholesale milk prices paid to farmers averaged $11.61 for about 12 gallons in November, a drop from September’s $15.37 price tag, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The price dip has been attributed to food processors paying lower prices while bidding at the National Cheese Exchange in Green Bay. That exchange deals in a small percentage of U.S. cheese, but it influences prices nationally, making its price fluctuations particularly sensitive for farmers’ income.

``We’ve lost 25 percent of our income because the price of milk went down that much; and it (the price) didn’t go down in stores,″ Hack said. ``So someplace in between, somebody is making a profit and we don’t think it’s necessary.″

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