Denver – One year after the president signed into law the bipartisan Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”), Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources, today celebrated the progress made to implement key Colorado priorities in the Farm Bill, and highlighted work that still needs to be done.
“After years of work in Colorado and with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee, passing the 2018 Farm Bill was a major victory for Colorado’s farmers and ranchers,” said Bennet. “One year later, I’m excited about the ongoing efforts to implement the bill, and its potential to expand economic opportunity in our rural communities – from improving forest health to investing in local food systems. I look forward to continuing this work with Coloradans and the USDA as they fully implement the Farm Bill.”
In 2019, Bennet has led the fight to ensure key Colorado priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill are fully and effectively implemented, including:
Conserving Land and Water
- Bennet led a bipartisan coalition of Western senators in calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement water conservation tools that he secured in the 2018 Farm Bill, and establish a Western Drought Initiative.
- Bennet applauded a $1.6 USDA grant awarded to the Colorado Conservation Tillage Association (CCTA) to implement a farmer-led initiative focused on soil health and regenerative management systems. The CCTA was selected to receive funding through a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants that Bennet helped establish and secure funding for in the Farm Bill. Bennet previously sent a letter to Matthew Lohr, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in support of the CCTA’s proposal.
- Bennet announced an $817,000 USDA grant to Boulder-based Mad Agriculture to assist farmers who are transitioning to regenerative and organic farming.
Forest and Watershed Health
- Bennet called on the Forest Service to implement the fire funding fix and the new tools he secured in the Farm Bill to invest in Colorado forestry, recreation, and infrastructure projects.
- Bennet pushed for full funding of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program in a government spending bill introduced in the Senate in October.
- Bennet continues to work with stakeholders in Colorado to ensure effective implementation of his Forest Service Flexible Partnerships Act, which was included in the Farm Bill, to boost collaboration to meet affordable housing needs.
Rural Economic Opportunity
- In January, Bennet called on the Bureau of Reclamation to update hemp policies following its legalization, which he secured in the Farm Bill. In response to Bennet’s letter, the bureau confirmed that because hemp was removed from the controlled substances act, they are able to provide water for hemp cultivation.
- After urging federal financial regulators to provide guidance and certainty for hemp farmers and processors, Bennet welcomed new banking guidelines for financial institutions that would help hemp producers and processors gain access to the banking system.
- After increasing funding for broadband deployment in the Farm Bill, Bennet introduced the Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act, legislation to reform how broadband companies report, and the federal government verifies and shares, data on affordable internet access across the country. He also urged the FCC to prioritize sustainable rural broadband networks.
- Bennet announced $600,000 in local food promotion grants, which are a part of a $50 million USDA annual investment established in the Farm Bill, to Colorado organizations.