Community Agriculture Alliance: Long road leads to governor’s desk

Livestock producers now have more protection for data

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— On Feb. 11, we wrote about a bill to protect confidential information collected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The bill (HB11-1111) would protect livestock producer information collected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture from being shared with any other state, federal or foreign government, industry partner or other database. It was introduced by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg in the Colorado House of Representatives and assigned to the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.

The measure passed unanimously out of the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 14 after being carefully amended by Dr. Keith Roehr, Colorado state veterinarian. Roehr offered language that would allow data to be shared for “response to or participation in any all-hazards event limited to the scope of each individual all-hazards event and to the scope of only those agencies directly involved in the all-hazards event.” This change allows the department to share limited information for any catastrophic event, including an animal disease investigation.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 22 by a vote of 61-4, with Reps. Becker, Brown, Gerou, Pace, Priola and Vigil signed on as new co-sponsors. Then it was referred to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, with Cheri Jahn, co-chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, as the bill’s Senate sponsor. It passed the Senate Ag Committee unanimously on March 17.

Sens. Grantham, Harvey, S. King, Lambert, Lundberg, Roberts and White also were added as co-sponsors, and the bill passed the Senate unanimously March 23. On March 29, the bill was sent to the governor for his signature. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it April 6.

It has been a long and winding road for HB11-1111. Colorado livestock producers now will have more protection for their confidential commercial data.

The lesson learned is that grass-roots involvement in our legislative process works. It is not just a profound right but is also a civic responsibility. Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union and Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association are proud of their participation in the journey of HB11-1111.

Leellen Koroulis is a Steamboat Springs resident and president of the Northwest Colorado Farmers Union.

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