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Senate Bill to support more farm and ranch interns in Colorado gets bipartisan push

Author: Joey Bunch - February 2, 2018 - Updated: February 2, 2018

farm and ranch internsIn this 2016, photograph, Harper Kaufman, co-owner of Two Roots Farm, works on a piece of ground in Missouri Heights near Aspen. Mount Sopris looms in the background. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times via AP)

A Colorado Senate committee gave a 9-2 push to a bill that, if it keeps its momentum, could allow farm and ranch operations in Colorado to hire more interns, or at least do it more cheaply.

Senate Bill 42, sponsored by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, to create the Agricultural Workforce Development Program came out of the legislative Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Committee last summer, which convened on ways to groom or support the next generation of agricultural producers in the state.

The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and in the House by Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.

The bill would let employers recoup half the cost of an intern up to 130 hours. The bill isn’t terribly expensive by state spending standards: reaching $72,579 in its second, budget analysts said. The program would accept 30 interns the first year and mature to 50 the next.

“This bill focuses on the future of agriculture in Colorado by connecting new agriculturalists with seasoned experts,” Donovan said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be constructing a pathway for young and beginning rancher and farmers to develop skills and hopefully start successful careers in agriculture.”

Senate Bill 42 bounces next to the Senate Appropriation Committee.

in her statement, Donovan cited her Senate Bill 104, concerning federal money for deploying rural broadband , is up for its first hearing in the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee Monday. She’s also sponsoring Senate Bill 5, the Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns Act, to be heard by the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee Wednesday.

(Editor’s note: This story was updated to include other bill sponsors.)

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.