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Under Attack, Again

Coming straight from our own neighbors on the Front Range, a new ballot initiative is threatening the livelihood of our local farmers and ranchers as well as threatening our affordable, available food sources.

The “Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation” campaign bills itself as an animal-rights measure, but in reality, is working hard to kill our agricultural industry and disrupt all aspects of meat production, sales, and export.

Also known as Initiative 16, the measure would ask voters to criminalize commonly accepted veterinary and animal care practices throughout the state. It also would ban the slaughter of livestock until at least one-quarter of their anticipated lifetime, a standard far longer than consumer and foreign markets demand or can afford.

The initiative will appear on the November 2022 ballot if almost 125,000 signatures are gathered from Colorado residents, which appears likely.

Agriculture leaders and their organizations are fighting back. “Coloradans for Animal Care” is a coalition formed to oppose Initiative 16 and includes Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado Pork Producers Council.

This measure is another in a long line of attacks and insults to our agricultural heritage and the meat industry in Colorado, which is a $3.4 billion state industry with a $40 billion economic impact. We currently enjoy 38,900 farms and ranches spread across 31.8 million acres in Colorado.

Those good folks work tirelessly 365 days a year to produce commodities for both the state and the entire nation.

Their work currently includes best practices in animal husbandry, which would be criminalized by Initiative 16. In addition, today’s common animal care practices would be rebranded as cruelty to animals.

Surprisingly, the measure also would affect pets. Some medical procedures and tests may be outlawed – which could include spaying and neutering of dogs and cats – and means pets may no longer have access to the high level of medical care they now enjoy.

Even though Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently declared a “Meat Out” day in Colorado – which saw rural Colorado rise to join forces and fight – he opposes this measure.

The Governor said he “agrees with farmers and ranchers that the PAUSE ballot initiative would hurt Colorado and destroy jobs.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser tweeted, “CO’s farming & livestock businesses are the backbones of CO rural communities. This measure is not based on science and will raise food prices for us all; worse yet, it will cost rural jobs & devastate communities. I will be fighting against it.”

Obviously, this is not a partisan issue. It is one that would affect every person who raises meat or eats it or has pets. If PAUSE is voted in as law, the price of all beef, beef by-products, dairy products, other meat, and other animal products would increase significantly. The availability of these products will decrease, and the taste and palatability of these products will change. Consumption of other types of proteins also will increase, creating more shortages.

A recent poll by the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance showed 72 percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching. It also proved 86 percent of farmers and ranchers believe the average consumer has little to no knowledge about modern farming and ranching.

These decisions should not be left to urbanites who do not understand the realities of agriculture. Join the fight. Refuse to sign the petition to get Initiative 16 on the ballot. If it makes it to the ballot, vote NO.

Most importantly, talk to all your friends, relatives and neighbors. Tell them how important this is and ask them to help us fight back.

Debbie Bell is the Fremont County Commissioner in District 2.