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Potato bill unites Colorado lawmakers



Potato bill unites Colorado lawmakers

Sometimes a bill about planting potatoes is simply about planting potatoes.

In Colorado, where the legislature ends on May 8, a bill on planting uncertified potatoes is already on the governor’s desk.

Colorado potato growers plant more than 52,000 acres annually to produce more than 1 million tons of potatoes. The crop contributes more than $335 million to the state’s economy.

The emergence of potato virus Y is now a threat to Colorado’s potato crop. Testing the seed stock of non-certified potatoes before planting would protect the crop and limit the spread of the virus.

Limiting the spread of Potato Virus Y and other potato diseases is necessary to protect Colorado’s potato growers, agriculture industry and economy.

The bill requires uncertified potato seed supplies to be tested and approved before planting. It continually increases the state’s workload and possibly state revenues.

The bill amends the Colorado Potato Seed Act to require potato growers to submit all uncertified potato seed supplies to the certifying authority, the Department of Agriculture (CDA), for testing before planting. The CDA must then approve the non-certified potato seed if it meets the standards set by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

State revenues
Violations of the Colorado Seed Potato Act are subject to fines collected by the CDA when civil penalties are imposed. This may increase revenue for the department, but any increase in revenue is expected to be minimal.

State expenditure
At a minimum, the bill increases the workload at the CDA, in collaboration with Colorado State University, to test non-certified potato seeds. The workload may also increase to address any violations of the law. This increase can be absorbed within the existing credits. The bill will come into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the General Assembly sine die, assuming no referendum request has been submitted.

The bill itself states that:

(I) The potatoes have been grown and stored as part of that grower’s agricultural operations and the requirements of subsection (2)(b) of this section have been met; or

(II) The uncertified potatoes are not more than one generation from certified parent potatoes or qualified parent potatoes, and the potato grower shall submit the uncertified potato seed for testing to the Colorado Certifying Authority.

(b) (I) A potato grower who intends to plant uncertified potatoes in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) may plant progeny of that seed in additional years if the grower submits the required application in each additional year for the uncertified potato seed stock to the Colorado Certifying Authority for testing and before planting.

(II) The Colorado Certifying Authority shall approve the uncertified potato seed stock for planting. The Colorado Certifying Authority will approve the seed stock if it meets the standards for such stock as established by the commissioner by law.

(The) Petitionable Act – effective date. This Act shall enter into force at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of 90 days after the final adjournment of the general meeting, unless a referendum request is submitted pursuant to Article 1(3) of Article V of the state Constitution against this Act or repeals any item, section or part of this Act within such period, the Act, item, section or part shall not come into force unless approved by the people at the general election to be held in November 2024 shall be held and, in such case, shall take effect on the date of the Governor’s official declaration of the vote thereon.

The potato virus has united lawmakers. More than twenty bipartisan members have registered as sponsors

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