2021 Legislative Session Recap

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When 2020 presented us with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, 2021 has brought us much in the form of relief and recovery from the global pandemic and its effects on the agricultural industry. 

Overall, the Colorado Department of Agriculture will see $76M come through our doors as a result of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus package. This is a testament to how critical agriculture is to the State of Colorado. 

This significant investment in Colorado's farmers, ranchers, and ag businesses is an investment in the future of agriculture in our state. It is also a result of more than a year of work by Governor Polis, Colorado Department of Agriculture staff, state legislative leadership, and producers and businesses across the state. Since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, CDA set up working groups, including a recovery task force, to determine the needs and solutions to the crisis. 

CDA is currently gathering feedback to determine how best to spend this money and administer the programs. As we move through this process, we will keep in frequent communication with our stakeholders. Be sure to sign up for our Ag Connection newsletter here and follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Below, you’ll find a more detailed description of the many bills from this past legislative session that will impact the Colorado Department of Agriculture - whether through grants, loans, or rulemakings. While this list is long and includes major pieces of legislation passed in the 2021 legislative session, it does not include every bill that may have an impact on your business. 

Colorado Comeback stimulus bills
To track CDA’s activity around the stimulus bills, including stakeholder engagement opportunities, please visit our website. There, you’ll find an online feedback form as well as other ways for the public to engage with the Department on stimulus spending, including public comment periods and rulemaking. More information about rulemaking will also be posted on our Rules & Regulations page once available. 

SB 21-203 - Funding for Colorado Proud
Appropriates $2.5 million to the Colorado Proud program to expand market opportunities for food, agricultural, and beverage products grown, raised, or made in Colorado.

SB 21-234 - General Fund Transfer Agriculture Drought Resiliency
Appropriates $1.875 million to engage in activities that promote the State’s ability to anticipate, prepare for, mitigate, adapt to or respond to drought. There is also $15,000 per Conservation District ($1.125 million total). CDA has already distributed over $1M in drought response funding to Conservation Districts across Colorado. 

SB 21-235 - Stimulus Funding Department of Agriculture Efficiency Programs
Appropriates $5 million to expand agricultural efficiency and soil health initiatives. This includes $3 million to CDA’s Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Program (ACRE3), of which at least $150,000 will go towards agrivoltaics; and $2 million to soil health activities, of which at least $1 million will go through Conservation Districts.

SB 21-248 - Loan Program for Colorado Agriculture
Appropriates $30 million to create an agricultural revolving loan and grant program, including up to $5-10 million for agricultural processing loans or grants and $10-20 million for low-interest loans to farmers and ranchers with an emphasis on supporting new and beginning farmers and ranchers and under-serviced communities.

HB 21-1262 - Money to Support Agricultural Events Organizations
Appropriates $35.5 million for Agricultural Events of which $2 million will go to Local County Fairs and other agricultural events. There is also a non-discretionary allocation of $5 million to the Colorado State Fair and $28.5 million to National Western Stock Show for event support and construction of the National Western Stock Show campus.

CDA Agenda Bills
HB 21-1045 - Invasive Pest Control Administration

The bill creates a new emergency invasive-pest response fund, updates definitions to align with national model legislation, and allows for cost recovery and grants if funds are available.

HB 1242 - Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office
The bill creates the Office, which provides authority for climate and drought programs and rulemaking authority for programs created in the office. It also charges the office with advising the Commissioner and other agencies on Drought and Climate programs that support agricultural resilience.

Other Bills that Impact Agriculture
HB 1044 - Non-contiguous winery licenses

This bill allows wineries to have up to two non-contiguous locations within a 10-mile radius. 

HB 1102 - Consumer protection for dog and cat purchases
The law requires information disclosures when selling a dog or cat and limits how many pet stores can sell dogs or cats. 

HB 1160 - Care of Dogs and Cats in Pet Animal Facilities 
The bill specifies standards of care for animal shelter and pet rescues and requires Certificates of Veterinary Health for the import of cats and dogs.

HB 1181 - Soil health program
Creates a voluntary, incentive-based soil health program at CDA to help the Ag community build drought resiliency, improve water quality, reduce erosion through cost effective and sensible soil management practices, and sequester carbon in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. It also establishes an advisory board.

SB 87 - Agricultural Workers’ Rights 
This law mainly concerns Colorado Dept. of Labor and Employment (CDLE), because it deals with labor laws. The law requires paying workers overtime (with specifics decided in rulemaking at CDLE), allows workers the right to organize and strike, institutes a minimum wage, and provides the right of access for key service providers and shade and water requirements. As directed in statute, CDA will work with stakeholders on an exemption to the rule that prohibits the use of the short-handled hoe and limits hand weeding to 20% of a worker's time. 

SB 135 - Prohibit use of certain animals in traveling animal acts
CDA will work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on regulating traveling animals coming into the state.

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