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Media Releases, Legislative News, Agricultural Updates


2024 State Legislative Roundup


Colorado was the last of our states to wrap up their legislative session this year when they adjourned sine die on May 8, 2024. While the legislative session definitely had its moments of strife, particularly over certain pieces of policy, the 2024 legislative session was less contentious than the previous session.

Due to TABOR restrictions, this was a tight fiscal year for Colorado. This meant that most bills had to be trimmed down or met an unfortunate legislative death, even for bills that had broad legislative support. Our two priority bills this session were not immune from these fates. SB24-055—Agricultural and Rural Behavioral Health Care was trimmed down while HB24-1138—Tax Credit for the Transfer of Agricultural Assets did not make it onto the calendar for the Appropriations Committee due to fiscal restrictions, which means that it ultimately died on the calendar.

Speaking of the budget, most of the requests put forward by the Colorado Department of Agriculture did make it through the budget process. This included some RMFU priorities like a significant increase to the Workforce Services Program, which will allow the program to provide agricultural producers and agricultural workers with the guidance necessary to adhere to labor regulations.

Although we were not immune to fiscal restrictions and limitations this year, we do have a lot to celebrate—the passage of SB24-055—Agricultural and Rural Behavioral Health Care, the adoption of RMFU priorities in CDA’s budget, changes in statute to increase access to veterinary care, a new tax credit to incentivize agricultural producers to utilize varying land stewardship practices, and the ag community working together to stop numerous bills that would have been harmful to our agricultural and rural communities.

As mentioned, SB24-055—Agricultural and Rural Behavioral Health Care—was one of our two priority bills during the 2024 session. This bill passed its final vote in the General Assembly on the final day of the session after intense negations due to the budget. The bill had overwhelming bipartisan support and had the support of the Polis Administration. Governor Jared Polis signed this bill into law on June 6, 2024. We worked with Senator Janice Marchman, Senator Perry Will, Representative Meghan Lukens, and Representative Anthony Hartsook on this bill. The bill will establish a program in the Behavioral Health Administration to address the root causes of behavioral health issues in the agricultural industry and rural communities. A working group will also be established in the bill to work with the program liaison from the Behavioral Health Administration to address how to better foster collaboration amongst the organizations that are working to address agricultural and rural behavioral health care. The members of the working group will be assigned by the Commissioner of Agriculture and must include a member of a statewide agricultural organization with an interest in behavioral health care, a member of a rural behavioral health care or substance use organization, a member with lived experience with behavioral health care or substance use issues, and a member of a veteran serving organization. There will also be an annual summit to bring the broader community together on these issues. When the bill was introduced it also established a grant to provide funding for organizations addressing these issues. Unfortunately, this component was cut during budget negotiations. We will fight for these funds in future sessions.

Our second priority bill, HB24-1138—Tax Credit for Transfer of Agricultural Assets—did not get a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee and died on the calendar even though it passed unanimously out of both the House Agriculture, Water, and Natural Resources Committee and the House Finance Committee. We plan to bring this bill back next year and have commitments from the sponsors to work on it again. This bill would have provided a tax credit for those who sell or lease an agricultural asset to a beginning farmer or rancher or a farmer or rancher from an underserved or underrepresented community. We worked on this bill with Representative Marc Catlin, Representative Meghan Lukens, and Senator Janice Marchman. The goal of this bill was to incentivize agricultural asset owners to sell or lease to a farmer or rancher from one of the identified communities. An agricultural asset included agricultural land, crops, livestock, irrigation equipment, agricultural water, facilities, buildings, and/or machinery including processing, storage, and distribution equipment used for farming and ranching in Colorado. The tax credit was not transferrable, but it would be refundable.

Other than the budget and our two priority bills, there has been a large focus on water this year in the Colorado General Assembly. A lot of the focus on this topic is due to the decisions that states must make after the US Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA. Colorado is now attempting to deal with gap waters and the dredge and fill processes. There were two competing bills before the legislature to address this issue—SB24-127—Regulate Dredged and Fill Material State Waters and HB24-1379—Regulate Dredge and Fill Activities in State Waters. While both bills were attempting to address the same issue, they are being done in slightly different ways. There were a variety of differences between the two bills but there were two major differences of note—which department should house the program to regulate these waters and what waters should be included in the program. SB24-127—Regulate Dredged and Fill Material State Waters put the program within the Department of Natural Resources and only includes gap waters. HB24-1379—Regulate Dredge and Fill Activities in State Waters put the program within the Department of Public Health and Environment and includes all Colorado waters not covered by the federal government. Both bills had agricultural exemptions that were in alignment with federal exemptions. We worked with our ag partner organizations to ensure that agricultural water is protected. Ultimately, a deal was reached between the proponents of both bills and HB24-1379 was passed by the General Assembly.

Here is an update on a selection of other bills we followed this session:

New Mexico

The 2024 New Mexico Legislative Session has come to an end. The Legislature passed a $10.22 billion budget, an increase of 6.8% from the preceding year. This helped to shore up infrastructure and capital outlay projects while increasing agency salaries, supporting behavioral health, and increasing access to affordable housing.

Per Rocky Mountain Farmers Union policy priorities, a major win for New Mexico is the passage of the New Mexico Meat Inspection Act—SB 37 and HB162. There’s $795,500 in the budget bill—HB2 & 3—to support the program through the NM Livestock Board.

We were also excited to see the passage of the increase of funds for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund—SB 9—which passed with an additional $300 million investment. The Legacy Fund is important to New Mexico—especially our agricultural communities by providing a variety of resources for farmers and ranchers towards land stewardship. How we manage our natural resources directly affects the health, safety, livelihoods, and quality of life of every New Mexican.

Pollinator Protection Plan—HM 33—sponsored by Representative Kristina Ortez, passed on the last morning of the New Mexico legislative session. This requests the state Department of Agriculture (NMDA) to convene a working group with representatives of NMDA, the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, and the New Mexico Beekeepers Association to consider acceptance of the association’s “pollinator protection plan.”

The New Mexico Public Education Department’s Healthy Universal School Meals budget request, also a priority of the Office of the Governor, was close to fully funded at $41 million plus $19.9 million for the current year shortfall.

Other budget priorities relevant to Rocky Mountain Farmers Union included in the set of Food Initiatives were met with mixed results. A highlight is increased funding for seniors and individuals with disabilities on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from $25 to $100 per month. Food Banks will receive $5 million in support towards their $25 million legislative request. Also, in the budget—HB2 and HB 3—was $200,000 for Healthy Food Financing Initiatives.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will have continued funding in its base budget for the Double Up Food Bucks (SNAP) Program of $633,000 and $200,000 to continue the expansion of the Approved Supplier Program that directly benefits farmers, ranchers and food hubs.


The dust has settled on the 2024 Wyoming legislative session. Most seasoned observers would agree that this session will go down as one of the most contentious in recent history. This atmosphere led to a significant number of Joint Interim Committee bills dying on the first few days of the session. These bills have had more scrutiny and are considered better-written pieces of legislation.  Some of these bills will likely resurface next session.  Most observers also think the budget came through in good shape after all the posturing between the two bodies.

The bill that potentially could have had the most impact on the local foods community, Wyoming Prime Act, was vetoed by Governor Mark Gordon. This bill was designed to position Wyoming to take advantage of opportunities granted by federal legislation. The Wyoming Prime Act would have allowed for born and raised meat that is slaughtered at home or at custom-exempt plants to be sold to an informed end consumer within Wyoming.  In his veto message, Governor Gordon shared concern that passing state legislation based on the current language in federal legislation has no way of accounting for amendments likely to occur in the process.

As for property tax relief, all single-family residential property taxpayers and associated improved land will be protected from large increases by the passage of a 4% cap on year-to-year increases beginning this year. Two exemptions were also passed. One provides a 25% exemption on the fair market value up to $2 million of value. It provides a backfill to county and local entities for revenue lost.  It also applies to this current tax year. The other provides a 50% exemption if the owner is 65 or older and has paid residential property taxes 25 years consecutively in Wyoming. Residents can only receive one exemption. The current statewide tax refund program was also expanded in eligibility and total dollars available.

Due to the Rocky Mountain Power rate increase filing last fall, the Joint Corporations Commission drafted a package of bills designed to enhance the ability of the Public Service Commission to investigate rate cases and adjust rates.  Most of these passed but we will have to wait for the next major rate case to gauge the results.

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