Colorado Senate Bill 21-087 "Agricultural Workers' Rights"

Agricultural Workers’ Rights Bill Hurts Ag Employees and their Employers

Rulemaking Process Begins

The Colorado Department of Agriculture announced July 14 its series of three rulemaking meetings for stakeholders on the hand weeding/hand thinning aspects of SB21-087. The meetings are July 22, Aug. 12 and Aug. 26, all from 9am to 10:30am. Produce growers and anyone affected is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to participate! If you are unable to attend these virtual meetings, please submit written testifmony.

CDA’s draft rules must be completed no later than Oct. 31, 2021 and the final rule Jan. 31, 2022. See this email alert for further explanation of this rulemaking process, sign up to participate in the rulemaking process and view the two-page CFVGA rulemaking guidance document.

Other aspects of the bill, such as overtime pay, breaks and access to service providers, will be handled by the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment. Check out the CDLE webpage on this topic and watch CFVGA weekly e-news for information on the CDLE rulemaking.

Update as of June 5: At about 10pm June 4, the full House after five and one-half hours of testimony passed SB21-087 on second reading. Here is the revised bill as passed by the House on second reading. Unlike the accusatory tone and inflammatory testimony when SB21-087 was first heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, this time was filled with Republican representatives, mostly those on the Ag Committee, defending agriculture and decrying the impact of the bill on Colorado family farms and ranches. The link to view this hearing is here. Scroll down and choose: Colorado House 2021 Legislative Day 112. Then on the right scroll down to find our bill, SB21-087. At the top of the page is an option to listen only.

The bill is expected to pass on third hearing and be signed by Gov. Jared Polis. The Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) is directed by the bill to produce draft rules for many of the specifics in this bill no later than Oct. 31. It is vital that growers engage and provide input to this rule making process. We will keep you informed about how to do this and provide you with the tools you need. Stay tuned.

June 3 SB21-087, Agricultural Workers’ Rights, passed on party lines out of the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee on first reading. The passed bill included all of the amendments the ag coalition negotiated. These amendments remained in the bill passed in the House June 4 on second reading and include: 

  • Variances to hand weeding regulations for transitional organic producers, those growing in mulch or containers and potentially for other growers who apply for a variance for other reasons. Other specifics, including who can apply for a variance, will go to rulemaking at either the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) or the Colorado Department of Agriculture. 
  • Changes will not go into effect until the 2022 growing season 
  • A second set of amendments will align the ag employee grievance process with those of other industries. Prior to this amendment, unlike other industries, a grieved employee was not obligated to participate in arbitration but could go directly to district court.

Part of the deal struck by the ag coalition was that both proponents and opponents of this bill would limit testimony. The Colorado produce industry was represented by testimony from CFVGA President Bruce Talbott. Listen to the entire hearing here. The SB21-087 hearing begins at 5:26:45. Bruce’s testimony begins at 6:39:05.

Background: SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it was when passed by the Senate. While the bill was greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

Working as part of a united ag coalition, CFVGA advocated to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version.  CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members. Several House members read letters from CFVGA members during the June 4 House floor debate on SB21-087.

Below are resources on this bill and ag labor in general. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott testified on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony was limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. 

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott will testify on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony has been limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. At noon June 3, this hearing has not yet started. The ag coalition is still negotiating amendment language. A possible start time is late afternoon, but keep checking through the link. 

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott will testify on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony has been limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. At noon June 3, this hearing has not yet started. The ag coalition is still negotiating amendment language. A possible start time is late afternoon, but keep checking through the link. 

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott will testify on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony has been limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. At noon June 3, this hearing has not yet started. The ag coalition is still negotiating amendment language. A possible start time is late afternoon, but keep checking through the link. 

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott will testify on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony has been limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. At noon June 3, this hearing has not yet started. The ag coalition is still negotiating amendment language. A possible start time is late afternoon, but keep checking through the link.

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

Agricultural Workers’ Right Bill Would Hurt Ag Employees and their Employers

CFVGA President Bruce Talbott will testify on behalf of Colorado produce growers. Testimony has been limited to five opponents of this bill and five proponents of the bill.

Listen to the June 3 committee hearing. At noon June 3, this hearing has not yet started. The ag coalition is still negotiating amendment language. A possible start time is late afternoon, but keep checking through the link. 

SB21-087, known as Agricultural Workers’ Rights, was introduced to the Senate in the Colorado General Assembly in early 2021. CFVGA members testified against the bill when it was heard in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee March 17. CFVGA sent this letter to each Senator, asking him/her to oppose it. However, it passed out of committee with several amendments of minimal impact.

CFVGA hired Axiom Politics, who along with other ag representatives worked very hard with Senate leadership, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to persuade SB21-087 proponents to accept meaningful amendments to the bill, including:

  • allowing overtime hours and rules to be determined by a CDLE rulemaking process, rather than specifying any time worked over 40 hours would be eligible for overtime pay
  • allowing rules around breaks and work during hot weather to go to CDLE rulemaking, rather than be specified in statute
  • less onerous requirements in the areas of key service provider access, housing requirements during a public emergency and employer provided transportation
  • exemption to hand-weeding exclusion for current organic organizations

These amendments passed on the second reading of SB21-087, May 19. The following day, May 20, the Senate passed the bill on third reading. Read the bill as it now stands. While the bill is greatly improved from its original form, it will add rules and expense to production agricultural, especially to produce operations. One provision that CFVGA fought hard for was continued use of hand-weeding for both organic and conventional farms. As passed in the Senate, only current organic farms can employ hand-weeding, and the short-handled hoe is now illegal.

This bill now goes to the Colorado House, with CFVGA working very hard to make changes to hand-weeding requirements and to maintain other Senate amendments in the House version. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE that growers and others with an interest in maintaining a vibrant Colorado produce industry call and email members of the House, especially Democrats and especially Front Range House members to ask them to support Colorado produce growers. In addition, please write letters to your local newspaper, radio and television stations about the harm this bill with do to Colorado produce. CFVGA May 26 mailed this letter to all House members.

Below are resources to educate yourself and to craft your email and phone messages to House members. Not only does this bill hurt farmers, it will greatly diminish  employee paychecks and will eventually lead to less produce raised in Colorado as growers switch crops or sell to development.

Fact sheets, surveys/studies, template letter:

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