New Farm Internship Program
An Agricultural Workforce Development internship program is on the books in Colorado. The bi partisan was bill signed the Governor.
The new program will reimburse agricultural businesses up to half of the cost of hiring a farm apprentice. That can help existing farmers and ranchers stay in production while allowing young farmers and ranchers the chance to gain better access to land, equipment and experience.
Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, one of the prime bill sponsors.
Catlin says "If Colorado wants to save family farms, we need to find ways for young and beginning farmers to be farmers,"
Rep. Barbara McLachlan, the bill's other prime sponsor in the House said "Young and beginning farmers represent our future, our environment, and our economy." In the Senate, the bill was backed by Sens. Kerry Donovan, and Larry Crowder.
The ag industry is the state's largest economic driver, generating 40 billion dollars a year.
National Young Farmers Coalition says the average age of farmers in the state is 59, higher than the national average. Sixty-four percent of Colorado producers will retire over the next two decades, and over 20 million acres, or 63 percent of Colorado's agricultural land, will need a new farmer.