Media Releases, Legislative News, Agricultural Updates
The legislative sessions in our three-state region have been busy working on bills associated with agriculture, and the government relations staff have been busy monitoring the bills, testifying in committees, and doing what is necessary to ensure that the bills coming out of the legislatures are working for family farmers and ranchers.
The Wyoming State Legislature wrapped up their session recently at the end of their planned 37 days session. A couple of bills passed by the legislature aimed at property tax relief. Since the budget this year was in much better shape than last year, the legislature could reinstate a few programs previously cut while saving at least one billion dollars for the permanent fund. The legislature also addressed some language in the Wyoming Food Freedom Act aimed at clarifying the role of a designated agent and addressing raw milk sales. One of the other bills that we monitored addressed compensation for wolf predation when the state has management authority over the wolf population.
We are very excited to announce that in New Mexico, two of the bills that we proudly supported and that also happened to be initiatives put forward by the governor passed over the weekend and will be sent to Governor Lujan Grisham’s desk soon. The first bill established the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. This bill provides multiple departments and agencies with funding to establish or continue programs related to conservation efforts. We are particularly excited that the New Mexico Department of Agriculture will receive funds to continue its work with the healthy soils program and to address critical water conservation issues. The other bill that passed over the weekend provides healthy meals for all students in K-12 at no cost to them. What is also exciting about this bill is its promoting local procurement of New Mexico agricultural products. Hopefully, this will provide producers in New Mexico with new and additional revenue streams.
One of the most significant issues we have been focusing on in Colorado is the right to repair bill passed by the Colorado House last month. Last week producers, including District I board member Danny Wood, along with RMFU President Chad Franke, member Harrison Topp, member Kyler Brown, and Director of RMFU Dan Waldvogle, were among those testifying in support of the bill during the hearing in front of the Colorado Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. We are pleased to announce that the bill passed the committee with a vote of 4-3 and is headed to the Colorado Senate. We are fighting for this bill to ensure that family farmers and ranchers can diagnose and repair their own equipment, bring their equipment to an independent repair provider, or bring it to the dealer to address these issues. We want family farmers and ranchers to have the freedom to choose how to repair their own equipment without burdensome restrictions that could leave their equipment down at a critical time for their operation.
The initial requests and proposals for the Farm Bill are due to the Senate later this month, so we have been in discussions with our Congressional offices to bring forward the priorities of our Farm Bill Platform and to provide input on other marker bills to ensure the needs of family farmers and ranchers are included and protected. This week, we also held a Farm Bill listening session in Sterling with representatives from Congressmen Buck’s office and Senator Bennet’s office, and the broader agricultural community to hear from producers about what is important for them. We were also able to address some of the concerns brought forward during our last convention related to inflation and the Kroger/Albertsons merger with Representative Caraveo prior to her first hearing on the issues in front of the US House Committee on Agriculture, which NFU President Rob Larew testified on behalf of Farmers Union. Our other federal focus area is the developing crisis in western watersheds. We have had numerous conversations with our Congressional offices on how they could support equitable, incentive-based solutions. We are optimistic about President Biden’s budget request for implementation funding for Drought Contingency Plans to conserve water in the Colorado River System. As painful as these cuts will be, we recognize that federal support is necessary to begin changing the course that we have been heading down toward hydrologic collapse.
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