By: Ben Pfeffer
President – Larimer County Farmers Alliance
Owner – Raisin’ Roots Farm
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
National Young Farmers Coalition
Hello everyone, I’d like to ask for your support on a Farm Stand bill
making its way through the CO statehouse right now. The bill is in support of being able to sell produce via retail farm stand on your own property no matter how you are zoned and regardless of acreage. The RMFU staff and House Rep. Jeni Arndt are looking for a list of talking points and arguments for why this bill should pass ASAP since they are facing pushback from the Colorado Municipal League
The things you can do as a concerned citizen are:
- Writing a supporting argument for us to present during public testimony on Monday at the state capitol and sending it to myself and Nick of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union at firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Coming with us to present public testimony. We want to know how this bill would impact you as a producer, consumer, landowner, and ultimately to share your story.
- Calling your representatives and the lawmakers on the House Rural Affairs & Agriculture Committee would also be extremely helpful.
The hearing for HB19-1191 will be held Monday, March 4, 2019, in House Rural Affairs & Agriculture 1:30 p.m. Room 0107 (Lower level of Capitol.) We are planning on carpooling down to testify for the hearing. Fort Collins folks, if you would like to carpool please meet at Raisin’ Roots, located at 2229 West Vine Dr, 80521 at 11:15 AM on Monday, March 4th.
For those who can’t make it or have additional supporting arguments and points they would like to submit, please reply to me with those and we will make them heard.
Background info on this bill and our arguments so far:
This has been a big issue for us up in Fort Collins and if passed, this bill would make retail farm stands legal across the state(woohoo!). The RMFU policy book
(pdf link on page) supports this explicitly on the following lines and indirectly via other entries on page 56-57.
National Policy on page 9, line 7 under Article I. Government Programs, C. Urban Agriculture.
CO Policy page 57, line 11 under Article IV. Water, Land, and Conservation Policy, A. Land Use.
My personal story is that our land is zoned agricultural and farm, however, we are prohibited from selling retail on site since we are under the arbitrary 3 acres that Larimer County requires to sell retail from a principal use site. As a Right to Farm state, the farmers are advocating for a right to sell what we grow in our own communities.
Other points I’ve given them so far:
The Colorado Municipal League(Policy Statement link here
) has stated that they are against state interference in local control over zoning and believe that this issue should be handled closer to home. So, why are we for allowing statewide retail sale of produce from our own property via farm stands? Here’s what I’ve got:
1. The local farmers are supported by and represent the communities that the CML is advocating for. This law gives communities the ability to purchase from and support their farmers. Keeping the dollar in the local community is a boon to any given municipality, instead of that same dollar circulating far and wide with no return impact at home. If the CML encourages local economic development this is in line with their views.
2. There is no cost attached to the bill, and therefore no financial burden attached to municipalities and citizens.
3. This is a source of municipal sales use property and other revenues, in line with what the CML supports. The retail stands would be responsible for local sales tax, enabling municipalities to draw these revenues and fund local initiatives.
4. These are local brick and mortar businesses, creating equity in the collection of sales and use taxes.
6. The CML opposes reductions in the state and local sales and use tax base. This bill would increase local sales and use tax base.
7. The CML supports “the concept of sustainability and sustainable solutions that are aimed to meet the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” This bill does that, to a tee.
8. Sales of produce would be regulated by the Food Safety Modernization Act.
9. The Colorado Municipal League(Policy Statement link here
) can take some solace in the fact that we are not perverting building codes or structural permits.
10. This bill addresses the socioeconomic balance to support producers with lesser means. When a farm stand is shut down the farm business is damaged, sometimes irreparably.
11. When a producer is told to take their goods to a market or sell wholesale instead of at their own farm stand, only those of higher socioeconomic status have these outlets available in their community to approach. I would encourage lawmakers to imagine trying to take your own locally grown produce into a Walmart and attempting to have them resell it for you. Farmers markets are not as widespread as they are represented in metro Denver.
12. The farm stand is a community hub. This is where generational knowledge gets passed on. This is where neighbors meet. The farm stand builds community, in any community.
Some of these points above are using language found in the 2018 Colorado Municipal League policy statement found on their website.