CFVGA News: CO Dept of Ag Issues Draft Rules on Hand Weeding/Hand Thinning

Please read, comment on CDA draft rules for hand weeding

Dear CFVGA Member,

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) today released its draft hand weeding/hand thinning rules CDA Handweeding Industry amendments – Google Docs, as it was directed to do with passage of SB21-087, Agricultural Workers Rights Bill, passed by the 2021 Colorado General Assembly.

These draft rules, which had strong input from CFVGA members and produce growers from Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, are generally favorable for Colorado produce growers, although we would like to recommend some changes.

By way of background, SB21-087 limits hand weeding by workers to no more than 20% of their work week. However, it allows for the following exemptions from this provision:


1.     Thinning of high-density crops planted less than 2 inches apart

2.     Hand weeding/thinning at a certified organic farm

3.     Hand weeding/thinning/tending seedlings

4.     Hand weeding/thinning/tending crops in planters or tubs where the opening does not exceed 15 inches

5.     Seeding, planting, transplanting, harvesting by hand or with a hand tool

6.     Hand weeding/thinning/tending crops in plastic mulch

In addition, CDA was directed to promulgate rules for two other categories for a hand weeding/thinning exemption:

1.     farms transitioning to organic

2.     individual farm variances if they don’t fit within the above categories but can demonstrate the need to hand weed/thin more than 20% of a weekly workers’ time

We now have draft rules for the above two categories and need your input on them. If you hand weed or think you may in the future, please take the time to read through the entire draft rule (link at top) to ensure you can live with it.

Changes to the draft rule to consider (by section):

2.2.1.5 Eliminate the estimated percentage of time that workers will hand weed during a week from the application. This is not data that the law requires be collected, and we don’t want the estimates used against growers.

2.7   In addition to farm records submitted in the variance application being confidential, we suggest adding that they may not be subpoenaed by a court if there were a lawsuit.

3.1.1  Following 2022 when the variance would be good for just one year, we suggest to insert language that makes each application for variance good for three years.

2.2.1.1 & 2.2.1.2  We suggest variance applications for farms not meeting any of the six exemptions be made in the name of the farm, whereas variance applications made by properties transitioning to organic be made on the parcel of land.

Please include your comments on the above CFVGA suggested changes as well as any additional changes on this survey Hand Weeding Rule-Draft #1 Rule Survey (google.com) by end of the day Wed., Aug. 11. This will allow written comments to be considered prior to the Aug. 12, 9am stakeholder meeting. You can still submit comments afterwards, but they will not be discussed at this meeting. Also, please note, you do not need to complete every section in this survey. It is fine to go to the individual sections you want changed and make that comment under “other.”

Finally, please note this CDA rulemaking process is only limited to the hand weeding/hand thinning portion of this bill. The Colorado Department of Labor & Employment will begin its rulemaking on overtime pay, breaks, heat illness & injury and access to service providers with its first meeting Aug. 17 at 3pm. Read about its process, submit written comment and sign up to participate in Zoom meetings here: https://cdle.colorado.gov/agricultural-labor-rights-and-responsibilities

We endeavor to keep the CFVGA SB21-087 webpage https://coloradoproduce.org/legislative-engagement/  up-to-date with links and info.

Questions? Need help commenting? Don’t have time to comment? Feel free to text, call or email me.

Marilyn Bay Drake, CFVGA Executive Director, admin@coloradoproduce.org, 303.594.3827

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.