Following Congressional Passage, Colorado Leaders Show Support for Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congress sent the 2018 Farm Bill to the President for his signature.

Upon Senate passage yesterday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet delivered remarks on the Senate floor (video here). He also praised the bill’s passage, highlighting the more than 25 Bennet-led priorities secured in the bill for Colorado.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Bennet held two dozen listening sessions across Colorado to receive input when crafting the bill. Those farmers, ranchers, local leaders, and others provided the following statements of support:

Dr. Dale McCall, President of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said: “During the past two years, Senator Bennet has taken time to listen to and learn from Colorado’s farmers and ranchers. He and his staff organized farm bill listening sessions across the state, and in September, welcomed our farmer and rancher members into his office to discuss the latest issues impacting production agriculture and rural communities. We are thankful for his leadership on the Senate Agriculture Committee through the Farm Bill process, especially on conservation, rural development, energy, and farm and ranch stress matters. We trust President Trump will sign this bill into law so producers will have time to make plans for the 2019 business year. Time is short for farmers to make the significant adjustments needed in their quest just to break even.”

Don Brown, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, said: “The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is more than a success for U.S. farm and ranch families; it’s a powerful win for all Americans. This country relies on a strong, abundant supply of the food, fiber, and fuel provided by America’s agricultural community. The programs within the 2018 Farm Bill provide true value to the people of Colorado, including expanding the Conservation Reserve Program acreage and legalizing hemp to help create more consistent programs as a U.S. crop. In particular, adjusting the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage program provides a vital safety net for producers.”

Dave Eckhardt, President of Colorado Corn Growers Association, said: “Colorado Corn Growers Association is pleased the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has passed out of the Senate. The 2018 Farm Bill is not only important to farmers, but to every American. Agriculture is dealing with depressed prices and significant natural disasters have taken their toll on the bottom line of farming operations across country.  Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill will help producers plan for the next five years.”

Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, said: “Colorado Association of Wheat Growers is happy to see the Farm Bill finally pass. From extreme weather conditions impacting production to a trade war impacting sales, the safety net programs provided by the Farm Bill help provide some stability to farmers dealing with low commodity prices and encourages them to keep conservation practices a part of their operations.”

Jim Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said: “We are pleased with the results of the Farm Bill conference report and hopeful that congress will move forward quickly to pass the bill. We are grateful to Senator Bennet for his work in representing Colorado farmers, ranchers and consumers as a member of the agriculture committee. Most people do not know that over 75% of the Farm Bill cost is actually for nutrition programs that benefit many people.

“The new Farm Bill continues to make great investments for specialty crop producers in the research arena, including fully funding the Specialty Crop Research Initiative at $80 million annually, and reauthorizing the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The potato industry has truly benefited from these programs. In addition, the bill provides important trade promotion funding through the Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program. Twenty percent of the U. S. potato crop is exported annually so a healthy trade environment is vital to the industry.

“There are other provisions in the bill that will have potential positive impacts on the valley as a whole, including making hemp legal nationally and eligible for crop insurance, and enhancements to the conservation title. In my opinion it represents a job well done by congress and how congress should function.”

Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association, said: “Last year, we discovered that the compensation values offered under the USDA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for bison losses were unreasonably low. Senator Bennet not only led the effort on behalf of bison producers to assure that USDA adjusted the LIP payment levels for 2017 to reflect actual market prices, but successfully enlisted his colleagues to include provisions in the new Farm Bill to make sure that future payment protection for bison losses are equitable with those for other livestock sectors. Senator Bennet’s work in making sure that drought monitoring capabilities are expanded under the new Farm Bill will benefit all areas of livestock production, including bison. We commend Senator Bennet for making sure that all sectors of agriculture benefit under the new Farm Bill.”

Mike Hogue, President of Colorado Cattlement's Association, said: "On behalf of beef cattle producers in Colorado, we support the hard work toward and the outcomes of the 2019 Farm Bill.  The bi-partisan legislation will continue the meaningful work of ranches and farms in conserving our natural resources while opening up the world to our high quality foods, like beef. Furthermore, CCA is pleased with funding that will go toward protecting our livestock from foreign animal diseases through additional research and preparedness.  These points and others contained in the 2019 Farm Bill support the global approach to food security and stewardship."

Don Shawcroft, President of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said: “The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is welcome news for Colorado farmers and ranchers. Not only will it ensure the safety net for producers, maintain and expand environmental stewardship programs, promote international trade and provide needed support to disadvantaged families, it removes future uncertainty for an industry struggling amongst low commodity prices.”

Hemp Legalization

Don Coram, Colorado State Senator and hemp producer, said: “As the sponsor of establishing hemp regulations in 2013 and actually becoming a hemp grower in 2017, I am thrilled that Colorado is leading the nation in this burgeoning new industry. The lack of clarity for hemp in federal law has long stalled the hemp industry from taking off. I appreciate Senator Bennet’s work on behalf of Colorado hemp growers to fully legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp. Colorado’s hemp industry will certainly benefit from this provision.”

Corbett Hefner, Vice President of Research and Development for Power Zone Agriculture, said: “As an innovator developing hemp fiber-specific manufacturing technology, Power Zone is thrilled to see clarification at the federal level on industrial hemp in this Farm Bill. Thanks to this key step, we can take our business to the next level in rural Colorado and across the nation.”

Natural Resources

Thomas Davidson, Summit County Commissioner, said: “Big thanks to Senator Bennet for working with us on the language for the Flexible Partnerships Act in this Farm Bill. This is an important new tool for Summit County and other communities in Colorado that are struggling to create affordable housing. It will open up new opportunities for housing projects in places that have Forest Service administrative sites, and the projects will take place in partnership with local community leaders.”

Dolores County Commissioners said: “Dolores County, the citizens of the area, as well as surrounding emergency service providers, all recognize the immediate need for the fire station. We appreciate Sen. Bennet’s and Rep. Tipton’s leadership to include the West Fork Fire Station Act in the final 2018 Farm Bill.”

Pat O’Toole—President of Family Farm Alliance, Board of Directors for Western Agriculture and Conservation Alliance, and Board of Directors for Partners for Conservation—said: "We appreciate Senator Bennett's support and recognition of the critical role played by the Farm Bill for the production of food and fiber, and for conservation of natural resources and wildlife. The Farm Bill anticipates the crucial role of water and watersheds for our future. Water is the determining factor for both production and conservation."

Erik Glenn, Executive Director of Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, said: “Senator Bennet’s leadership in developing a new Farm Bill will have lasting positive impacts on Colorado and its many agricultural producers. Innovations in the conservation title that were led by Senator Bennet and his staff will vastly improve many of the conservation programs producers across Colorado utilize to make improvements and advancements in their stewardship.”

Andy Mueller, General Manager of the Colorado River District, said: “The critical drought resiliency provisions included in this bill will help to ensure Colorado’s farmers and ranchers can adapt to a changing climate while continuing to provide food and fiber to the nation. We appreciate the commitment that Senators Bennet and Gardner have shown to our farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

Bob Broscheid, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said: “Colorado's wildlife and agriculture will both benefit from the 2018 Farm Bill; it’s a win-win. A long list of Colorado's wildlife and recreation depends on working agricultural landscapes for food and cover, and the farm bill has several provisions that provide substantial incentives for farmers and ranchers to invest in practices that maintain wildlife habitat, as well as voluntary public access programs. Private lands are critical to Colorado's quality of life, and this farm bill will provide the funding needed to ensure continued conservation of our soil, water, and wildlife.”

Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director of Colorado Wildlife Federation, said: “Colorado Wildlife Federation applauds Senator Bennet on his work to ensure that the final 2018 Farm Bill includes strong provisions for conservation and wildlife. Thanks to his efforts, this bill includes robust funding to help farmers and ranchers create wildlife habitat on working lands, as well as key provisions to conserve grasslands and reward ranchers for grazing practices that promote soil health, wildlife habitat and drought resilience.”

Young Farmers

Kate Greenberg, Western Program Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, said: “Passage of this Farm Bill will give young farmers in Colorado tools to stand tall in the face of a changing climate. Young farmers and ranchers across the country demanded that this Farm Bill invest in the next generation, and leaders like Senator Bennet helped make this a Farm Bill for the future. But the work isn't over. We had hoped to see Senator Bennet's ‘micro-EQIP’ proposal in the final bill, but we remain committed to working with USDA and Senator Bennet to create on-ramps for young farmers to critical conservation programs.”


Zoila Gomez, Lead Coordinator at San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition's Cooking Matters, said: “The reauthorization of the Farm Bill only strengthens our commitment in The San Luis Valley and across the state to continue to educate and motivate our participants to make healthy and physical activity choices within a limited budget through the Cooking Matters Campaign by Share Our Strength. We are grateful for all of those who advocated and voted for the Farm Bill. The impact the Cooking Matters Campaign is making in the lives of parents, caregivers and kids in the San Luis Valley and across the state through its programming is overwhelming. We see changes in their approach to nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and budgeting. In an era of social media, people do love learning about nutrition, cooking healthy meals and dining together. The passing of the Farm Bill allows us to continue to bring together more people and move on with our mission.  From the Farm Bill to a Cooking Matters class it is clear that we all matter. Happy news for many of us indeed.”

Gabriel Guillaume, CEO of LiveWell Colorado, said: “LiveWell Colorado applauds Senator Bennet’s leadership and the bipartisan effort to craft a 2018 Farm Bill that shows we do not have to compromise between supporting our farmers and our under-resourced residents, and instead demonstrates they go hand in hand in building a healthy, resilient food system. This bill does what it should do – lays a strong foundation for healthy food access by maintaining the integrity of SNAP, enhances our ability to provide healthy foods to low-income families through a robust Nutrition Incentive Program, and provides support for our farmers and ranchers through programs such as the Local Agriculture Market Program. We thank our many local and national partners as well as our federal delegation for their tireless efforts to get this passed.”