Sen. Bennet endorses Senate farm bill draft

Author: Marianne Goodland - June 12, 2018 - Updated: June 12, 2018

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., right, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., stand together during a tour of the Colorado Highlands Wind farm, in Fleming, northeastern Colorado, in 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

One day ahead of a hearing focused on the 2018 farm bill, Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver has endorsed the draft proposed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Bennet announced Tuesday he would support the version released last week by the committee, of which he is a member.

The ag committee is scheduled to “mark up” the bill Wednesday, which means amendments. The bill does not yet have a sponsor.

The Senate’s version of the five-year bill omits work-requirement changes to the nation’s food stamp program that were included in the House’s farm bill, but that led every Democrat and about 20 Republicans to vote against it. President Donald Trump has said he would veto a farm bill that lacks those changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“This bill is a reminder of what bipartisanship can achieve,” Bennet said Tuesday, adding that the bill is the result of bipartisan collaboration between the ag committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, and ranking member Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

A bipartisan farm bill is a must-have in the Senate, where Republicans hold 51 seats. The bill must receive at least 60 votes to get to the floor.

In its current form, the farm bill makes critical investments in Colorado agriculture, conserves land and water, and provides new opportunities for rural economic growth, Bennet explained.

The bill includes several provisions on forest preservation, soil health and outdoor recreation that were submitted or supported by Bennet.

Bennet also supported provisions that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity, allow energy storage technologies to be eligible for funding from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for American Program, provide federal grants for rural broadband, and reauthorize a “farm and ranch stress assistance” program that assists states with helplines and suicide prevention training. Colorado’s crisis line expanded to address suicide prevention within the agricultural community last December.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.