The House today advanced three State Stimulus proposals to support the agriculture industry, invest in sustainability and drought resiliency
DENVER, CO– The House today advanced three bipartisan bills to invest in the sustainability and success of the Agriculture industry. These bills are a part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bills passed on Second Reading.
“Our agriculture industry is the backbone of many local economies across the state, and today the House made significant investments in its success,” said Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee Chair Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, sponsor of SB21-248 and SB21-235. “Both the ACRE3 and the Agriculture Future Loan Programs are designed to support the long term success and sustainability of Colorado’s agribusinesses. Investing in the Colorado Comeback means keeping the agriculture industry thriving for decades to come.”
SB21-248, also sponsored by Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, would create the Colorado Agriculture Future Loan Program and direct $30 million of state stimulus funds into it. The Program is designed to provide low-interest loans to beginning farmers and ranchers and farm-to-market infrastructure loans and grants for businesses. Agribusiness provides more than 170,000 jobs in Colorado, and this program is intended to ensure that the industry has a sustainable and prosperous future in the state.
“Innovative advancements in clean energy agriculture mean we can improve crop yields while expanding solar energy use,” said Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont, sponsor of SB21-235. “The ACRE3 program will ensure that more of Colorado’s ranchers and farmers can take advantage of these innovations to increase energy efficiency, cut costs and improve their bottom lines.”
SB21-235, sponsored by Ag Committee Chair Karen McCormick and Representative Tracey Bernett, allocates $5 million to the Department of Agriculture, with at least $3 million going to the ACRE3 energy efficiency program and at least $2 million going to conservation districts to implement voluntary soil health programs. 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.
“Water is one of the most precious resources we have in Colorado, especially for our state’s farmers and ranchers,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, sponsor of SB21-234. “As the realities of climate change become more and more pressing, investing in drought mitigation and response has become an absolute necessity. I’m proud of the work we did today to keep our agriculture industry nimble and prepared for the challenging droughts to come.”
SB21-234, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Cutter and Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, provides $3 million to the Department of Agriculture to ensure the state is better prepared to anticipate, mitigate, or respond to droughts. Colorado’s drought was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has taken a severe economic toll on the agriculture industry. This bill will help the state plan for and mitigate future droughts and climate disturbances.