Farms and ranches challenge constitutionality of farm access law
DENVER — Today, June 21, Colorado farm and ranch owners filed suit in U.S. District Court challenging newly adopted legislation that requires agricultural employers to open their private property to trespassing by so-called “key service providers.”
The following statements may be attributed to the Colorado Council of Rural Employers:
“As farm and ranch owners, we have a duty to protect our team members and our families, as well as those who visit our farms and ranches, from harm. The new Farm Access Law makes that job far more difficult by requiring us to permit almost anyone to come onto our property at almost any time.”
“We have a duty to protect the food we grow and harvest from contamination. Many of our farming and ranching operations must meet strict government and industry standards that are not compatible with people wandering around on our property, and ultimately putting our consumers at risk.”
“Across the state, our farms and ranches use heavy equipment that can be dangerous to those who have no experience with farm work.”
“Many of us raise cattle and other livestock that can quickly inflict serious injuries on someone who wanders into their barns or pastures, or who startles them.”
“Senate Bill 21-087’s requirement that we open our private farm and ranch property to anyone identified as a “service provider” at any time we are working, without any notice they are coming, without any assurance they will follow our safety and security rules, and with no remedy if they don’t, puts us in a position that no other class of Colorado employers faces.”
Adopted by the General Assembly in 2021, Senate Bill 87 requires that agricultural employers allow so-called “key service providers” access to any location on their private farm or ranch property, without notice, whenever they wish to contact an employee who is on a break or otherwise not working. In doing so, this law directly conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, in which the court held decisively that a California regulation allowing a limited number of union organizers access to specific locations on farms and other agricultural properties, at limited times, and only with advance notice, was an unconstitutional taking of private property.
As Senate Bill 87’s Farm Access Law imposes almost no limits whatsoever on the unfettered access it affords key service providers to Colorado farms and ranches, we are confident the District Court will determine that it, too, is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
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