Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Applauds Senate Committee Decision to Indefinitely Table HB17-1290
Robert Sakata, Sakata Farms, Brighton, Colo., and president of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA), yesterday urged members of the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee not to impose Colorado agriculture the paperwork burden for another regulation.
CFVGA applauds the decision of the committee following Sakata’s and other testimonies to indefinitely table the bill, which had already passed the House.
“CFVGA is opposed to HB17-1290, because it would create another administrative nightmare for family farms, who rely on family members to implement regulatory requirements,” said Sakata. “Although it may sound simple to ask employees to ‘opt out’ if they don’t want to participate in this Colorado savings plan, our members’ experience with similar programs like the Affordable Care Act, indicates the additional requirement would place a huge additional burden on Colorado growers.”
HB17-1290 sought to establish a statewide retirement savings plan for private sector employees through a payroll deduction. Employers with a specified number of employees would have been required to participate. Due to their dependence on seasonal labor, many produce growers exceed the minimum.
“CFVGA believes that saving for retirement is important and many of our members provide financial management training to their employees, which we believe is a much more appropriate approach, especially in fruit and vegetable farming,” said Sakata. “Full time employees on these operations have to learn money management because of the seasonality of farming.”
In addition, Sakata noted in his testimony that growers typically operate with a bank loan until their crops are harvested in late summer or fall when they pay off their loans and pay themselves. In addition, Colorado growers currently are dealing with record low prices and weather challenges.
The CFVGA continues to grow and is now comprised of some 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $300 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 60,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.