The Colorado Department of Agriculture has been working to set up and administer a number of programs passed by the legislature in the 2021 session. In all, the Colorado Comeback stimulus bills are driving $76M directly to Colorado’s agricultural sector. You can stay up to date on what is happening with each of the stimulus bills on the Ag Stimulus page of our website.
For any of the programs or bills, you can submit your feedback through the online form here.
SB 203 - Colorado Proud funding
The Colorado Proud funding plan will invest in increasing consumer awareness of the program, grow the market for Colorado-produced items, and aid Colorado Proud members in marketing their products. Funding will be set aside specifically as grants and financial aid opportunities for Colorado’s food and agricultural producers/business owners. CDA is still working on the timeline for when the applications will open for funding.
SB 234 & SB 235 - Agriculture Drought Resiliency & Efficiency Programs
Part of the SB235 funding goes directly to the S.T.A.R. Program, which promotes voluntary, incentive-based soil health practices. There will be $2 million available in grants for conservation districts and other eligible entities, including grower groups, Tribal nations, and NGOs) to implement the program.
Applications for the S.T.A.R. Program are now open and will close on September 15, 2021. You can find the application on the CSCB page. You can learn more about the grant guidelines here.
There are also webinar opportunities to learn more about the S.T.A.R. program and how the grant program can work with the conservation districts. We are offering two sessions to accommodate different schedules, but the sessions will be the same.
- Tuesday, August 17, at 3:00 p.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/
- Wednesday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/
The ACRE3 (Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) program is also seeking applicants on a rolling basis. The program provides financial and technical assistance and education to help agricultural producers and processors cut energy costs, develop their own energy resources, and create markets for agriculturally-derived energy and fuels. A minimum of $150,000 is also available for agrivoltaic projects. CDA welcomes proposals advancing agrivoltaic ingenuity in Colorado.
All agricultural producers in Colorado with at least $5,000 in annual energy costs (not including vehicle fuel costs) are eligible to apply for a free technical report (worth about $5,000 each), including an on-farm energy efficiency audit or renewable energy feasibility study. Applicants who have received technical reports may be eligible for grants of up to 65% of project costs based on the recommendations of the technical reports. The maximum award is $500,000 per applicant or farm enterprise.
You can learn more about the Agricultural Energy Efficiency program from the Colorado Energy Office and from the Department of Agriculture.
SB 248 - Loan Program for Colorado Agriculture
CDA is taking the next step in getting the loan program underway by searching for a program manager. The position was posted in the last week of July and the application window closes on August 16. The Department is also putting together a working group to help CDA with the selection of a lending partner for the program. Once a Manager is hired, that person will work on establishing rules, setting up an application process, and working with a lender or lenders to originate and service loans. CDA is working to clarify which businesses will be eligible, who will be able to apply, and how to structure the program based on the needs we heard during the listening sessions.
HB 1262 - Ag Events
A second listening session was held on July 29, to help further identify which ag events will qualify (county fairs were given priority) and how best to distribute the money allocated by HB 1262. CDA is working on finalizing the application process and timeline while considering the busy County Fair season. Applications will open on Friday, August 13 and be open until September 10, 2021.