CO Senate Passes a Pair of Agricultural Stimulus Bills with Strong Bipartisan Support

Stimulus bills providing financial support for agricultural resiliency and efficiency programs receive final approval from the full Senate

DENVER, CO – Today, the State Senate passed two agricultural stimulus bills that are a part of Colorado’s recovery package, advancing them to the House for final consideration.

SB21-234, sponsored by Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis & Jerry Sonnenberg, allocates $3 million to the Department of Agriculture to increase the state’s ability to anticipate, mitigate, or respond to droughts. In 2020, each of the 64 Colorado counties were experiencing a drought. Major drivers were an absent monsoon season, increased soil moisture deficits, record-high temperatures, and extreme evaporative demands from winds and low humidity. This drought exacerbated many of the financial impacts on the agriculture sector, and as climate change worsens, drought could cost Colorado an additional $511 million dollars in expected annual damages to agriculture. This bill will help the state plan for and mitigate future droughts and climate disturbances. SB21-234 passed through the Senate with unanimous support.

“Climate change has caused the worst drought for farmers in their planting season in 20 years,” said Senator Jaquez-Lewis, D-Boulder County. “This legislation will provide funding for drought mitigation and wildfire prevention techniques. As a San Luis rancher’s granddaughter, I am proud to support our agricultural families across the state.”

SB21-235, also sponsored by Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, allocates another $5 million to the Department of Agriculture, with at least $3 million going to the ACRE3 energy efficiency program and at least $1 million going to conservation districts to implement voluntary soil health programs. Over the next decade, Colorado’s agricultural sector must comprehensively reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also increasing energy efficiency and cutting costs. ACRE3 is Colorado’s premier state-level program for agricultural energy management and provides financial aid, technical assistance, and education to help the agriculture industry cut energy costs and develop their own energy resources. To further increase the sustainability of the ag industry, producers can invest in healthy soil management, nutrient cycling, and erosion prevention strategies which will increase yields and resilience to extreme weather events. This bill was passed by a vote of 28-7, demonstrating strong bipartisan support.

“Agricultural businesses and working families depend on keeping costs low,” said Senator Jaquez-Lewis. “This legislation funds energy-efficient techniques like improving soil health and Agrivoltaics, which combines solar energy creation over croplands. Farmers and Ranchers will have another way to improve their crop production.” 

Both bills now head to the House for further consideration. To read the bills and find updates regarding their status, visit leg.colorado.gov.

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.