Dec 7, 2023Sakata appointed Colorado ag water policy advisor
The Colorado Department of Agriculture has hired onion grower Robert Sakata to serve as the state’s first agricultural water policy advisor.
Legislators approved the funding for the position to engage with Colorado farmers and ranchers on water issues affecting agricultural users. Sakata starts in the role Jan. 1.
“I am beyond excited to have Robert joining our CDA team,” Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg said in a news release. “His lifetime of experience in water and as a farmer, his service to the state over many decades serving on related boards and commissions, and his clear commitment to serving Colorado’s agriculture communities make him the right person at the right time.
“At a time when agricultural producers are facing historic challenges, Robert will bring both empathy and expertise to the table to represent CDA in supporting ag through these challenges,” she said in the release. “We look forward to seeing all that he will do in this new role.”
Sakata is president of Sakata Farms Inc., Brighton, Colorado, which was started by his father, Bob Sakata. The farm includes 2,500 acres of irrigated farm ground between Brighton, Platteville and Hudson. He attended the University of Colorado studying molecular cellular and developmental biology and child psychology.
Growing up on the family farm, his parents were a great example of how important involvement in the community is. Following their footsteps, Robert Sakata is the founding president of the board of directors for the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, which was created to fill a need for a common voice representing produce growers across the state.
“Robert brings experience that can only be gained by making a living in irrigated agriculture to this position,” Les Owen, conservation services director, said in the release. “This will make him a tremendous asset to CDA in advocating for the agriculture industry on water issues.
Gov. Polis in 2021 appointed Bob Sakata to serve on the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) as a representative of the South Platte Basin. Following the January meeting, Sakata will complete his term and serve as Commissioner Greenberg’s delegate to the CWCB.
Sakata also serves on the boards of the Fulton Irrigation Company, Brighton Ditch Company, and the New Brantner Irrigation Ditch Company. His past service on organizations include the Metro Basin Roundtable (since its inception), the Colorado Water Congress board of directors, the National Onion Association board of trustees, Adams County Farm Bureau board of directors and Colorado Onion Association board of directors.
Sakata served Colorado and worked closely with the Colorado Department of Agriculture for 15 years as a member of the Water Quality Control Commission, having been appointed by three different governors.
In the Fall of 2022, the Colorado Farm Bureau awarded Sakata the “Outside of Farm Bureau Service to Agriculture Award,” a recognition his father, who died in June 2022, received in 2013. Bob Sakata was 96.
“I am honored to be able to participate in water discussions no matter where in order to build trust and foster positive relationships that can carry meaningful dialogue forward,” Sakata said about his new position in the release.