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Rep. Lukens: Friend of the Family Farmer

Feb 27, 2024

This story was originally published in the Steamboat Pilot & Today here.

Greetings from the state Capitol. We are about 50 days into the 2024 legislative session, and we have been busy creating laws that help Coloradans.

Earlier this month, we hosted 4-H youth from Rangely to Vail, from Oak Creek to Maybell, at the state Capitol. Their advocacy and dedication is a fervent reminder as to why we need to continue supporting agriculture in Colorado. I am proud to work on many bills this legislative session that promote agriculture, a significant economic driver on the Western Slope. Our youth touched on essential questions regarding water, wolves and youth political engagement.

These last two months at the state Capitol have flown by. It is an absolute privilege to be here representing House District 26, and I spend every day using my voice to represent the people of HD 26 and our Western Slope values. On many of our agricultural bills, I work closely with many stakeholders, one of which is the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and I am proud to be a trusted partner and one of this year’s “Friend of the Family Farmer” recipients. It is important to me to advocate for our rural ranchers, farmers and community.

Stewards of the Land

In Northwest Colorado, we are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, which are central to our tourism and agricultural economies. My constituents are true stewards of the land in a multitude of ways, which is why I am bringing forward SB 24-126, Conservation Easement Income Tax Credit.

Conservation easements are used for multiple purposes, including creating wildlife habitat, stream restoration and larger open space. In addition, conservation easements foster economic resiliency by keeping families on their land and thus supporting rural economies.

We have dozens of examples of small-family operations who have not only been able to access the conservation easement credit, but have been able to keep their ranching and farming operations in production because they were able to permanently protect their land through conservation easements.

Our agricultural economy

Engaging with the 4-H youth reminds me that we must support not just the current agricultural producers but also the next generation. For this reason, I am proud of HB 24-1138, Tax Credit for Transfer of Agricultural Assets, a bipartisan bill which passed through the Agriculture Committee with unanimous support.

Securing agricultural assets like agricultural land, water and livestock can often be an expensive and arduous task, particularly for beginning farmers and ranchers. This bill will establish a tax credit to incentivize agricultural asset owners to sell or lease their agricultural assets to a beginning farmer or rancher. With the increasing age of the average farmer and rancher, we need to do what we can to support the next generation of agricultural producers in Colorado.

Challenges confronting rural agriculture

This last year has not been easy, with the introduction of wolves on the Western Slope. I continue to hear about how concerned and stressed our community members are. As House Speaker Julie McCluskie, state Sen. Dylan Roberts and I fielded questions from the 4-H youth earlier this month, we could feel the impact of wolf introduction on them and our communities as a whole.

Even before the wolf introduction, farmers and ranchers across the country have struggled with mental health issues and a lack of the necessary resources to get help. Therefore, another bill I am working on, SB24-055, Agricultural & Rural Behavioral Health Care, is a bipartisan bill that will create dedicated programs, foster community collaboration and provide crucial funding to support the mental and behavioral well-being of our farmers, ranchers and rural residents.

Community engagement and collaboration

Stay tuned for more bills coming to support our economy, our environment and education. I am working on a few more bills related to the preservation of water, protecting our youth from bad actors on social media, supporting affordable housing, incentivizing the creation of early child care facilities and promoting economic prosperity.

Please contact me at with comments, concerns and questions. Also, please send me an email if you would like to be added to my newsletter for more frequent legislative updates.

Let’s keep in touch and keep passing bills that make a difference. Onward!

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