Bennet and Staff Have Heard from More Than 300 Coloradans Across 17 Sessions Thus Far; Bennet on Track to Hold More Farm Bill Listening Sessions than His 2014 and 2018 Tours
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced that his agriculture policy and regional staff will host additional Farm Bill listening sessions in Southwest Colorado, the San Luis Valley, and the Denver area in the coming weeks. Today’s announcement comes after Bennet and his staff held 17 listening sessions on the Front Range, the Eastern Plains, the West Slope, and in Northwestern Colorado in the last six months. With plans to organize at least a dozen more discussions, Bennet is on track to hold more Farm Bill listening sessions than he did in the lead-up to the 2018 and 2014 Farm Bills and gather more input than ever before to ensure Colorado’s priorities are reflected in the upcoming Farm Bill.
“Across Colorado, we’ve heard from farmers and ranchers about the toll severe drought, increased prices, and our broken immigration system has taken on their operations. This year, my team and I will hold more listening sessions than ever before to ensure next year’s Farm Bill reflects the priorities of Colorado,” said Bennet.
In an effort to make sure Colorado’s needs are part of the national discussion about next year’s Farm Bill, Bennet and his staff are hosting listening sessions across the state throughout 2022. This year, Bennet kicked off his listening sessions with roundtables in Pueblo and Fort Collins in April and May. In April, he also hosted a forestry and fire listening session with Meryl Harrell, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore in Boulder. Since then, his staff have held listening sessions across the Eastern Plains, the West Slope, and in Northwestern Colorado. In August, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Bennet to hear from producers and nutrition leaders in Palisade.
During the listening sessions thus far, Bennet and his staff have heard from farmers, producers, and community and business leaders about the threat that drought poses to their livelihoods and operations. Colorado producers have told them about the effects that increased costs have had on their balance sheets – including the cost of inputs like seed, fertilizer, and diesel – and the need for stronger USDA safety net programs. Nutrition leaders have stressed the importance of federal nutrition programs to support Colorado families during and after the pandemic. Listening session attendees also have emphasized the need for legislation to reform our immigration system for producers and farmworkers, which Bennet continues to negotiate in the Senate with Idaho U.S. Senator Mike Crapo.
Bennet has served on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee since first coming to the U.S. Senate in 2009. During that time, he has worked to pass two bipartisan Farm Bills -- in 2014 and 2018 -- and secured a number of priorities for Colorado, such as new tools to improve drought resilience and soil health, and expanded funding for collaborative forest restoration and wildlife habitat improvements. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Bennet has remained committed to ensuring key Colorado priorities in the bill are fully and effectively implemented.
As the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources and Chair of the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure, Bennet has pushed to make major investments in our forests and agricultural economy. He secured $4 billion to address drought in the West and in the Colorado River Basin in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law last month. The IRA will also invest more than $20 billion in working lands conservation measures and $5 billion to restore the health of our forests to prevent wildfires, modeled after his Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act. At Bennet’s urging, the bipartisan infrastructure law also made a major investment in our forests – for a combined historic $10 billion investment in our forests.Media guidance and details on upcoming staff-led listening sessions are forthcoming. Anyone with input on the Farm Bill process is welcome to attend listening sessions or submit input through Bennet’s website, including local producers, community leaders, economic development leaders, and local institutions and businesses.