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Montana Ski Resort Wants To Use Sewage For Snowmaking

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Although the idea of skiing on sewage may not sound like an ideal winter vacation, a ski resort in Montana thinks it could work.

The resort is not planning on piping raw sewage down a mountain as a strategy to replace snow.

Rather, the Yellowstone Club, which is located north of Yellowstone National Park, wants to take the treated wastewater from sewage and make artificial snow with it and has asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for the OK.

Apparently the procedure, officials say, has worked out well in Europe and Australia so this wouldn’t be anything new.

The advantage of using sewage, according to resort officials, is that it would help ensure that the ski resort could open on time and would be a benefit to the local watershed.

“It’s an outside-the-box idea and it checks a lot of boxes,” the environmental manager of the club told the Associated Press.

The good news, according to state officials, is that if a skier got a mouth-full of snow after an unsuccessful turn, the snow would be safe enough to digest. That is, as long as the contamination levels stay within safe standards.

Rachelle Morris, a longtime Wyoming skier who frequents Jackson Hole Ski Resort and Grand Targhee, told Cowboy State Daily that she thinks the idea is “horrible.”

“I can’t think of a worse idea in my life,” Morris said. “The idea of using sewer water to make snow is just revolting. I don’t care how they clean it up. It’s still sewer water.”

Morris said she had a good idea for renaming the slopes at the Yellowstone Club, however.

“I love to the ski the Rendezvous Bowl and the Casper Bowl in Jackson,” she said. “They could just call theirs the ‘Toilet Bowl.'”

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Wyoming Tourism: Wildlife On Display At Taxidermy Artists Event This Weekend in Pinedale

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Some of the best wildlife art in the state can be seen in Pinedale this weekend as Wyoming’s top taxidermy artists put their work on display as part of their annual meeting.

Taxidermy displays from around Wyoming will be open for the public’s viewing at the Sublette County Ice Arena as part of the annual meeting of the Wyoming Association of Taxidermy Artists.

While some may not think of taxidermy as art, there is a considerable amount of artistic thinking that goes into each piece, said Susan Orcutt, secretary of the WATA.

“You’ve got to know how to paint, how to blend colors,” said Orcutt, who runs High Country Taxidermy in Pinedale. “When you do a habitat scene, you’ve got to have a little bit of artistic ability, you can’t just slap it together.”

Orcutt said about 60 taxidermy artists from around the state, along with some from Utah and other states, are expected to attend the annual meeting, which begins Thursday with the set up of the display of entries for the WATA contest.

The display will then be closed to allow for judging and will be reopened Friday night after WATA’s banquet.

During Friday, members will take part in their annual business meeting, attend seminars and share taxidermy tips.

“I’ve been doing taxidermy for 20 years and I learn something new every year,” Orcutt said. “Normally taxidermists don’t give you a lot of information, but when you go to the shows, they do.”

The display will open for public viewing at 8 a.m. Saturday, with a $5 admission fee for adults. Proceeds will be used to help pay for next year’s meeting.

Entry is free for children age 12 and under.

The public will see a special kind of taxidermy when they visit the display, Ocrutt said.

“These are all spiffed up,” she said. “When you go into competition, there are certain things you have that you don’t normally worry about so much in a normal everyday consumer piece. These competition pieces, people spend days and days, weeks and weeks on them.”

The show will be particularly educational for anyone interested in having taxidermy work done in the future, she added.

“When you start looking at things, you start realizing there is a difference between a good mount and a bad mount,” she said. 

Other events scheduled for the weekend around the state include include:

The Cody Country Horse Sale, an annual sale that takes place in front of Cody’s Irma Hotel. Begins at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Mother’s Day Tea at the Historic Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne on Saturday.
The Rough Stock Rodeo School at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. Friday through Sunday.
The Spring Bazaar at Gillette’s Cam-Plex on Saturday.
The Up in Arms Gun Show at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper, Friday through Sunday.
Forever West XTreme Bull Riding, Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo on Saturday.
A “Taco Fest” at David Street Station in Casper on Saturday.

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Full Buses Back at Yellowstone (If Tourists Are Vaccinated or Tested Immediately Before Trip)

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The tourism industry received some welcome news Thursday from Yellowstone National Park as officials announced the lifting of some restrictions on tour bus passenger numbers.

Park officials announced that there will be no restrictions on group sizes for tour buses whose passengers have either been vaccinated or tested for coronavirus immediately before their trip.

An email to industry partners sent by the park’s Concession Management office also said restrictions will be lifted in the case of bus passengers who have recovered from COVID-19 within three months of tour departure.

For operators who aren’t able to attest to having all passengers vaccinated or otherwise safe from COVID-19, passenger numbers will be limited to 10 people or 50% of vehicle capacity, whichever is greater.

Elaine Dejong, a group tour planner for Allied Tour and Travel in Iowa, said her company is relieved and happy to be able to resume touring in Wyoming’s national parks.

“The past year (plus) has been difficult on travelers, especially our senior and adult clientele,” she said. 

Dejong went on to compliment the National Park Service for putting together a plan to allow motorcoach travel to resume.

“What better way to celebrate our country than visiting a couple of our favorite national parks,” she said.

The National Park Service email noted that the new rules had been created in collaboration with the motorcoach industry and the U.S. Public Health Service in an effort to increase access to the park. 

And there’s really nowhere to go but up, when one takes a look at the statistics.

In 2019, more than 300,000 of the park’s roughly 4 million visitors arrived via motorcoach. Last year, there were fewer than 500.

So from the perspective of Rick Hoeninghausen, marketing director for Xanterra, the concessionaire in Yellowstone National Park, the lifting of the restrictions is a step closer to “normal.”

“Parks are a huge piece of the motorcoach industry and the packaged group tour business,” Hoeninghausen said. “They’ve also been really struggling through this pandemic, when you go from, you know, a strong business, perhaps to none. So this is big for them.”

Hoeninghausen does caution, however, that “normal” is still some time away.

“Bus companies can’t quite resume full operations, because the rooms and the locations they would have had access to are not yet available,” he said, citing the Park Service’s decision to delay the opening of some lodging and restaurants in Yellowstone. 

But Hoeninghausen is said he was pleased to see steps been taken to encourage motorcoach travel to northwest Wyoming. 

He added that because tour buses to Yellowstone typically run longer routes, the ripple effects will make a difference for the communities outside the park as well. 

As a result, the news was also good for businesses such as the Irma Hotel in downtown Cody.

Mike Darby, the Irma’s co-owner, said tour buses make a huge difference for gateway communities like Cody.

“Tour buses are the backbone of our business in Cody,” Darby said. “They not only take up mass blocks of rooms, they also add a buffer and a foundation to our restaurant  infrastructure, and just totally help everything move smoothly, and give us a guaranteed income, so to speak. So the rest of it ebbs and flows, but the tour buses keep going. And we’re glad to have the opportunity to serve them.”

Darby is also on the board of the Cody Stampede Rodeo, which operates Cody’s nightly rodeo June, July and August. 

“As far as the rodeo is concerned, it’s going to basically ensure that we get 50 to 100 people extra per night, which is another, say, 10% business,” Darby explained. “And that’s just icing on the cake.”

Another popular tourist attraction, Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue in Cody, saw almost a 70% drop in business last year because group tours were canceled during the pandemic. So Miller also welcomed the tour bus news.

“That’s all we have to say, isn’t it?,” he said, smiling. “Buses are back. To me that’s the best news we’ve heard since a year ago this time, when they said ‘The buses are gone’.”

Miller pointed out that from his perspective, tour buses level the playing field.

“It lets everybody go back to business,” he said. “I won’t say ‘back to normal,’ because it’s not perfect. But boy, from where we stand, it’s pretty close.”

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Wyoming Will Use A $2.5 Million Federal Grant To Boost Tourism Marketing

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Elyse Kelly, The Center Square

Wyoming will put $2.5 million of a federal grant toward marketing the Cowboy State’s tourism opportunities this year.

As a separate part of the CARES Act, the grant is from the U.S. Department of Commerce and earmarked for tourism marketing to help states’ tourism economies recover. Last year, the bottom dropped out of the national tourism economy as stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19 diminished travel.

Wyoming’s tourism economy contracted by about 25% last year, less than the national average of about 45%, thanks to its voluminous outdoor attractions and open space.

“We didn’t have to reinvent ourselves, and that’s a fortunate thing for the state of Wyoming in terms of the visitor economy,” Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT), told The Center Square. “What we’re doing is actually broadening our footprint. We’re casting a wider net with our messaging.”

Shober said the money will go toward a fully integrated, layered marketing approach that will use research to target demographics most likely to act upon a marketing message. Individuals who have already been identified as interested in the outdoors and cowboy culture will see ads promoting Wyoming as a destination show up when using social platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Print ads in magazines like Outside Magazine and TV spots are another facet to the approach, Shober said.

One of the most popular ways to visit the Cowboy State is via road trips, and last year was no exception, yet many of those visitors spent fewer dollars within the borders. WOT wants that to be different this year.

Shober said reasons for the reduced spending connect back to COVID-19. Many went camping, which is fairly self-contained and keeps visitors out of areas where they might spend money at a restaurant or on activities, she said.

“There were a lot of attractions and activities that did not operate or could not operate at full capacity last year,” Shober said. “So therefore, large events like a lot of our major rodeos and festivals across Wyoming didn’t operate last year. If you were running a sightseeing business, you were limited in the number of guests that you could take with you.”

There was also a large increase in day-trippers, who spend less as they don’t spend time in accommodations, Shober said.

Much of this will be self-correcting, Shober said. With restrictions being lifted or lightened and all of Wyoming’s rodeos and festivals on the calendar in 2021, in conjunction with the targeting marketing, Shober expects spending to increase.

Indicators that signal intent to travel are pointing toward a successful year of tourism, she said. Organic search on Wyoming Travel’s website, which Shober points out is a very strong indicator, is up anywhere from 27% to 70% ahead of last year.

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Wyoming’s Hospitality Industry Can’t Find Workers; Especially Dire in Northwest Wyoming

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

While Wyoming’s hospitality industry is gearing up for what promises to be a busy summer tourism season, restaurants and hotels are finding themselves very short of workers to care for visitors to the state.

The problem is especially dire in northwestern Wyoming, where a lack of housing is leaving employers unable to recruit workers.

“What continues to be a huge, huge issue in Teton County is housing,” said Colleen Dubbe, manager of the state Workforce Centers in Jackson and Afton. “Whether it’s foreign workers or college students or young adults or even older workers, it’s across the board. Not only is it incredibly expensive, there’s none available and there’s none available in the region.”

The housing shortage in northwest Wyoming, along with federal unemployment policies, immigration rules and travel restrictions, have created a “perfect storm” for a challenging hiring environment for hospitality businesses, said Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association.

“The hospitality industry is labor intensive to begin with,” said Brown. “This year has by far been the toughest year for staffing I’ve ever seen.”

Part of the problem stems from federal regulations and COVID-related travel bans that are sometimes slowing the arrival of foreign workers to staff hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants, said Brown, whose association represents more than 500 members of Wyoming’s hospitality industry.

Many employers apply for a special visa to bring employees from other countries to the United States, but the process can be very involved, he said.

“The process for businesses to apply for and get those employees is insanely arduous,” he said. “But the need for additional legal foreign workers is significant. There are not enough people here to step in and fill all those roles.”

Complicating the issue is the fact that the extension of federal unemployment benefits through September has allowed some people to collect an income without working, Brown said.

“Certainly the extension was warranted when businesses were closed last year and people were out of work,” he said. “But the extension of unemployment benefits through September is incentivizing some workers to simply stay home and not worry about going back to work.”

In Jackson, those problems are exacerbated by the lack of housing, Dubbe said.

Dubbe said many of Jackson’s workers actually live in surrounding communities in the Star Valley and Idaho, but housing is short throughout the region.

She added apartments in Jackson can often cost more than $2,000 per month.

“I know businesses are worried,” she said. “They are very concerned about what is going to happen this summer. Consistently the one thing they mention is housing.”

Some businesses have gone so far as to buy old hotels to use as employee housing. In past years, the town of Jackson has allowed people to sleep in their cars overnight to deal with the issue.

Northwest Wyoming is expecting a busy season as people get out following the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, Dubbe said.

“The good news is the bookings for the summer are up, and we anticipate a good year as it relates to the tourist industry,” she said. “But with the housing market being so tight, it has limited their ability to recruit employees.”

The tourism industry is Wyoming’s second largest, behind energy production. Between hotels, food service, arts, entertainment and recreation, the industry accounted for 44,835 jobs in 2019, slightly more than 11% of the state’s total jobs.

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Wyoming’s Open Spaces And Schools Are Attracting Travelers, Job Seekers

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By Bob Pepalis, The Center Square

Unlike many other states during the pandemic, Wyoming attracted visitors seeking the great outdoors with its national parks, and was also successful in attracting job seekers and business interests.

“Overall, the U.S. travel economy declined nearly 45%, whereas Wyoming’s travel economy only declined 25%. In the year ahead, we anticipate a rise in popularity for destinations such as Wyoming that offer wide-open spaces and an abundance of outdoor adventure opportunities,” Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, told The Center Square.

Travel spending in Wyoming declined from $3.96 billion in 2019 to $2.96 billion in 2020, “The Economic Impact of Travel” report prepared for the Wyoming Office of Tourism said. Total direct job loss was estimated at 6,030 jobs, with accommodation and food services accounting for 3,600 of those.

Remote workers were the focus of a two-month targeted national marketing campaign last fall by the Business Council, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and Wyoming Office of Tourism, Ron Gullberg, Strategic Partnerships director for the Wyoming Business Council, told The Center Square.

“From the Business Council’s perspective, we are seeing heightened interest from remote workers looking to relocate, job seekers and business recruitment and expansion inquiries. Wyoming’s open spaces, opportunity for an adventurous lifestyle, business-friendly environment, open schools and less restrictive health orders are among the driving factors we’re hearing,” Gullberg said.

“The intake form housed on the tourism website generated 3,200 inquiries and not just remote workers. They included job seekers and business recruitment and expansion inquiries. Even after the two-month campaign ended, we’ve received more than 200 additional inquiries,” Gullberg said.

The three agencies are dividing the inquiries and addressing them, Gallberg said.

Wyoming state parks saw the revival of the “Great American road trip,” the Wyoming Office of Tourism reported, and strong indicators show an intent to travel this year.

“Wyoming’s State Parks saw a record-breaking year with 4,878,765 visitors, more than a million more than last year’s record season of 3,876,039, an increase of 34%,” Shober said.

Curt Gowdy State Park was one park with visitor increases more than 200% above the five-year average. For 2020, it was 231% above that average, but the increase was more dramatic in March, which had a 581% increase in visitors and April with a 474% increase in visitation.

The state is made up of almost 50% public land, including the 12 state parks with more than 100,000 square acres, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks.

The state does not have reservation or booking data available that would help in projecting travel spending in 2021.

“However, Visit Wyoming’s Official Travel Guide orders are up 46%, while travelwyoming.com traffic is also up 36% – all strong indicators of intent to travel,” Shober said.

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Sleeping Giant Ski Area Thrives Under Private Owner

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Sleeping Giant Ski Area west of Cody has a long history – and a financially troubled one for the last few years. 

The family-friendly resort was in danger of closing down for lack of funding in 2019.

Then Nick Piazza stepped in.

Sleeping Giant, near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is the oldest of the 12 ski resorts in Wyoming, established in 1936.  The nonprofit that had been operating the ski area since 2007 announced in 2019 that it had been running at a deficit of $200,000 each year, due to low numbers of skiers and snowboarders.

Piazza, an investment banker who grew up in Cody, made the decision that his beloved winter wonderland couldn’t just shut down. So he bought it. Now he and his ski buddy Mike Gimmeson and other dedicated snow fiends have made this winter playground thrive this season.

“We almost doubled our season pass holders from last year,” he said. “And I think weekends have been pretty strong going into March.”

“We tried to do a lot,” Gimmeson noted. “We got the night skiing going, we got a yurt up, and we did some projects.”

As a small family ski area, Sleeping Giant has certainly seen its share of struggles – but Gimmeson said this is the best year he has seen.

“We’ve had the biggest season that I know of, that I’ve ever been involved with,” he said.

And he says he’s got a unique perspective.

“I learned how to ski here when I was 1 year old,” he said, laughing. “My parents both ski patrolled here, and I came up every weekend of my childhood life.”

From the activity on the hill on this sunny Sunday in late February, you’d never know that Sleeping Giant has had difficulties staying open. Financial woes forced the closure of the hill in 2004, when the Dahlem family – owners at the time – couldn’t afford to upgrade the T-bar lift. A community effort brought the resort back to life in 2007, but the non-profit could only do so much. 

Piazza said he took on the financial risk only after making a deal with the community.

“The idea was, we’ll keep it simple – you come skiing, we’ll keep the lifts turning,” he smiles. “And so far, it looks like that partnership is working.”

Both Nick and Mike pointed out they’re not planning to end the season quietly. 

Gimmeson said they were originally planning to stay open until the end of March, but have decided to extend their season, so that they can host events such as a Triathlon on April 3 and the First Responders Winter Olympics on April 10.

“We’ll have, almost every weekend in March, some kind of event,” Piazza explained. “Plus, we’re matching the spring break calendar for Park County schools. So, the first week of April is spring break, and we’re gonna have a bunch of stuff there.”

And Mike pointed out that inviting skiers like Jack Feick, a Bozeman-area ski instructor and social media influencer, helped to raise the ski resort’s visibility.

“We’re just trying to bring other people from the ski culture to bring them here, to really show them what we have,” he said.

Feick is enthusiastic in his praise of the resort, where he skied for the first time in late February.

“Very good food, great lodging, and the skiing here is phenomenal,” he said, grinning. “A five-minute boot pack, up to the top of the mountain, and you’re into all those pillows over there, it’s insane. It’s the greatest skiing I’ve ever seen inbounds, honestly.”

The owners are not done improving the area, they said.

“We’d like to get more lifts up higher, and just more services for guests,” Mike explained. “And we’re working with local lodges so that there’s local lodging and, just, stay tuned, because we’re just getting started.”

“We have plans to keep the restaurant open all summer,” said Nick. “We’ll have the zip line going as usual, and we hope to add maybe a couple of other attractions, including hiking from the top of the ski lifts and maybe a climbing wall. But we’re working with the Forest Service on that.”

Gimmeson pointed out that the odds were against a private owner taking on a small ski area – but the combined strengths of the two friends have made the venture a success.

“Him, being a businessman, very successful – he really helped drive that into this place,” he said of Piazza. “Cause, I’m just a ski bum, you know. So us together, the ski bum, the businessman – we combined forces, and we pulled it off.”

Video footage courtesy Dean Madley (Sleeping Giant) and Jack Feick

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Wyoming Tourism Declined By 25% In 2020

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s tourism declined by 25% last year, but the decline was minor compared to the national decline of 45%.

“Overall the U.S. travel economy declined nearly 45%, whereas, Wyoming’s travel economy only declined 25%,” Travel Wyoming spokeswoman Piper Singer told Cowboy State Daily.

The numbers are preliminary and could change before late April, which is when all of the data is gathered and published in the department’s annual report, Singer added.

Wyoming, along with the rest of the nation, took a major hit in numerous industries, including tourism, last year due to the coronavirus. However, not all the news was bad once the first wave of the virus passed around mid-May.

Despite the pandemic shutting down the park for for nearly two months, Yellowstone National Park only saw a 5% dip in visits in 2020. The park, in its most recent visitation report, said it hosted 3.8 million recreation visits in 2020, down from the 4 million hosted in 2019.

The park saw record visitation numbers for the months of September and October, with visitor numbers in October topping 2019 figures by 110%.

Grand Teton National Park also saw record-breaking numbers throughout the fall, as did Devils Tower.

Through November, Devils Tower recorded 420,330 recreation visits for 2020, down just 7% from the same period in 2019 despite the fact the country’s first national monument was closed from March 25 through May 21 due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

According to Dean Runyan Associates’ numbers provided by Singer, the state saw $2.96 billion in travel spending last year, down 25.3% compared to 2019.

Wyoming saw $286 million in state and local tax revenue from tourism, a 16.1% decline, 7.3 million overnight visitors (down by 21.5%) and 27,000 travel-related jobs in 2020.

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Wyoming Named Top Travel Destination by Travel + Leisure and AFAR

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Vast open spaces, breathtaking landscapes and western charm are just a few reasons Wyoming has been recognized as one of “The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021” by Travel + Leisure and a top North American destination in AFAR’s “Where We’ll Go in 2021 – When We Can.”

With Wyoming’s innate social distancing, iconic road trips and destinations drawing traveler consideration, the Cowboy State topped this year’s must-visit lists. 

The January issue of AFAR featured Grand Teton National Park, while the annual list from Travel + Leisure highlighted Wyoming’s western and outdoor attractions including the 125th anniversary of Cheyenne Frontier Days, Casper’s College National Finals Rodeo and the endless adventures in state parks.

“It’s extremely humbling to see Wyoming recognized as one of the top destinations to visit this year and beyond,” said Diane Shober, executive director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism. 

“Now more than ever people have a strong desire to get out and explore the great outdoors, including more rural, less-populated destinations like Wyoming. We encourage travelers to embrace a spirit of adventure, while continuing to ensure collective wellness by pledging to adventure responsibly.”

With National Plan for Vacation Day on January 26, the Wyoming Office of Tourism offers countless inspiration and resources to plan a safe, enjoyable vacation this summer. From all-inclusive guest ranches to epic road trip routes, Wyoming will guarantee an unforgettable vacation.

To learn more about traveling safely and responsibly throughout Wyoming, visit travelwyoming.com/wy-responsibly. Travelers can share their experiences and pledge “WY Responsibly” on social media by using #WYResponsibly.

The annual National Plan for Vacation Day takes place each January to encourage Americans to plan their vacation at the start of the year and in an effort to avoid leaving vacation days unused. 

National Plan for Vacation Day coincides with the Let’s Go There initiative to encourage Americans to still plan – or even book – future vacations, or to simply keep their travel flame alive and think about their next trip.

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Gordon Announces Steps to Boost Wyoming Energy, Tourism, Ag

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A series of steps aimed at improving Wyoming’s primary economic drivers has been proposed or endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon on Thursday announced the actions he will take or support to improve conditions in the state’s agriculture, tourism and energy sectors.

In the area of energy production, an industry shaken by recent executive orders halting the leasing of federal land for oil and gas production, Gordon said he will pursue an “all the above” energy industry that encourages the development of new industries such carbon capture technology and rare earth production in addition to oil, gas and coal.

Along those lines, Gordon is backing proposed legislation that would grant several tax reductions to the energy sector.

“Our traditional industries will adapt and continue to provide the reliable, affordable and dispatchable power they always have, only better,” he said in a statement. “Our economic recovery will hinge on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands. Wyoming can continue to grow even as our mix of energy supplies evolve.”

At the same time, Gordon welcomed steps to increase the ability of the new Wyoming Energy Authority to encourage the development of non-traditional resources.

“Carbon capture and the development of carbon byproducts will be part of Wyoming’s energy future,” he said. “So too should be efforts to research extracting the rare earth elements and critical minerals associated with coal that will be needed for the batteries powering the anticipated worldwide build-out of wind and solar power.”

Gordon is also backing measures that help the state’s tourism industry, its largest employer.

He singled out House Bill 85, which would let Wyoming State Parks use money raised through entrance fees to finance a large portion of their operations and outdoor recreation rather than construction projects. The measure is expected to allow for a $1.1 million reduction in money given to the parks from the state’s general fund, its main bank account, without affecting the visitor experience.

A number of bills aimed at bolstering the state’s agriculture committee are also part of Gordon’s initiative, including one that would give the state attorney general the authority to look into antitrust matters.

The measure is a response to consolidation of 80% of the meat packing industry within four major companies. Beef producers in Wyoming have long complained the four companies have kept prices for producers artificially low.

The state now lacks the authority to investigate such charges.

Gordon is also backing HB 52, which would increase Wyoming meat products used by school districts to feed students.

The governor said he is also working with legislators to expand the state’s meat processing capacity.

“This is only a part of an ambitious initiative focused on adding value to products across the entire spectrum of agricultural enterprise,” he said. “This effort is essential to grow this key part of our economy.”

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