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From the Newsletter (Vol 1, Iss 2): February Featured Stakeholder Randy Fischer

February 8, 2010

[Source: Sarah Lupis for ILE’s The Salt Lick, Vol 1 Issue 2]

This month’s featured stakeholder is Randy Fischer, State Representative from House District 53

Randy Fischer, Chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and representative for House District 53 in Fort Collins, CO.

(Fort Collins, CO). As many readers likely know, Fischer was recently appointed Chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. What you may not know is that Randy Fischer is a third-generation Coloradoan and two-time graduate of Colorado State University, receiving both a BS in Natural Resources Management and, later, an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a former bee keeper, developing a successful 1,000-hive business that cooperated with farms in Wyoming, Colorado, and California during different parts of the year, and a former consulting engineer who traveled the world working on a variety of projects. Fischer has been married to his wife, Cathy, a teacher, for 37 years. Fischer is a bird watcher, a carpenter, an athlete, a gardener, and, since high school, a community leader.

“I was interested in politics since high school. I always felt the need to be involved and move forward on issues. I decided to run for the state house in 2005 because I was at a point where it was okay to take a break from my career; I had time to devote to public office,” explains Fischer.

Public office does take time. When the legislature is in session, Fischer heads to Denver on Sunday afternoons so he can begin preparing for the week. On a typical day, committee meetings start at 7:00 a.m., followed by several hours on the House floor hearing bills, followed by more meetings, which can last well past dinner time. Fischer has little help—one part-time aid helps to gather information and manage his office. Although the responsibilities of juggling information, emails, phone calls, and constant communication can be demanding, Fischer contends, “It’s demanding in a good way. This is something I feel blessed to be able to do.”

As Chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources committee, Fischer regularly hears bills related to agriculture, water, oil and gas, mining, wildlife, state parks, and oversight of the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources. Currently, the committee is working on issues related to funding for the Division of Water Rights, protecting water rights, protecting agricultural land on the fringes of urban development, supporting the state’s booming organic agriculture business, the future of conservation easement tax credits, and loans for rural water projects.

Fischer has a vision for Colorado that seems to go beyond any one bill or issue. “Colorado is going to see tremendous changes in the not too distant future. There are those who are predicting that we will double our population in the next 20-30 years. I think it will be a challenge for livestock producers to be able to operate and make sure that their industry is viable and sustainable in the face of this increasing population growth. Just the water issue alone is really impacted by population growth,” says Fischer, who seems determined to fight for rural interests, “The goal is to make sure we don’t dry up agricultural land or reach that tipping point where rural communities start to wither and die. One of the goals should be to promote rural economic development and sustainability.”

Fischer’s vision is a close match with the mission of the Institute for Livestock and the Environment (solving problems at the interface of livestock production and science-based environmental management), which is what drew him to become an ILE stakeholder early on. He hopes that ILE can continue to work with the legislature to provide sound scientific information to help legislators find solutions to problems and help spread information into local communities.

“I have an interest in seeing environmental interests and agricultural producers working more closely together to solve problems that will become more pronounced as time goes on. I was so thrilled when I heard about the Institute and what you are trying to do,” says Fischer, who continues, “What we really want is a viable and sustainable agricultural industry. I don’t want a ‘museum industry’. I want working landscapes because that’s really who we are in Colorado and part of what contributes to our quality of life here.”

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