Friday, May 15, 2015

Legislative session ends

The 2015 Colorado legislative session has come to an end and Colorado Farm Bureau successfully worked with both parties to pass legislation to protect agriculture and rural values.

“We had an outstanding session working with both democrats and republicans to create the best possible outcome for our members,” said Don Shawcroft, president of Colorado Farm Bureau. “This is credit to our grassroots, non-partisan policy and our members willingness to speak out.”

Throughout the session, CFB took positions on various bills ranging from water and property rights, pesticide use, agritourism, improving the ballot initiative process, energy, wildlife, agriculture innovation grants and agricultural promotion and education.

With Colorado being a headwater state, water legislation always dominates the conversation. CFB proved to be a leader on discussions regarding water policy issues ranging from regulation of stormwater detention facilities to finding ways to lower the high groundwater in the South Platte. Throughout the legislative session CFB was able to protect water rights across the state.

“As always, water was a big issue and Colorado Farm Bureau proved to be the agricultural voice in water policy discussions,” said Shawcroft. “We were able to make significant improvements to water policy while preventing policy that would have been detrimental to Colorado’s water right holders.”
CFB supported the Pesticide Sunset Applicator bill and was pleased to see its passage. The bill extended Colorado’s pesticide applicator program and retained jurisdiction to Colorado.

“The passage of the Pesticide Applicator Sunset bill was a huge success for our members,” said Shawcroft. “Colorado Farm Bureau urged our members to contact their legislators about the importance of this program and our members responded. I believe that played a large role in the outcome.”

CFB also supported a bill that provides the electorate more information and transparency when signing a petition for a ballot initiative.

“Colorado Farm Bureau worked diligently with a diverse group of stakeholders to pass this much needed reform to the ballot initiative process,” said Shawcroft. “The general public will now know the financial implications of the ballot initiative before they sign a petition.”

Agritourism is a growing industry in Colorado and CFB supported a bill that would help provide tax incentives that would support agritourism efforts. This bill would have helped offset costs for agritourism operators and helped promote agritourism events in rural Colorado. Unfortunately the bill did not pass, but CFB will work in the interim and continue to push for legislation to help this growing segment of the industry.

Two tremendous opportunities for agriculture innovation and education came before the legislature this year.

“We were thrilled to see a bill that offered a grant program for agriculture innovations,” said Shawcroft. “ And at the same time, a proposal to make significant investments in the National Western Stock Show Center to turn the facility into the pinnacle of agricultural outreach and education.”

“All in all, the 2015 Colorado legislative session was a success for Colorado Farm Bureau,” continued Shawcroft. “Even though the Colorado session is over, Colorado Farm Bureau will continue to work with legislators, regulators and others to preserve our family farms and protect the Colorado way of life.”

Colorado Farm Bureau is the state’s largest grassroots organization with over 25,000 members across the state. CFB seeks to promote and protect the future of agriculture and rural values.

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