Garfield commissioners join bipartisan push declaring opposition to Colorado animal rights ballot effort aimed at livestock producers
The all-Republican Garfield County commissioners are joining agricultural groups — and even some Democratic party members — in trying to keep Ballot Initiative 16 off the 2022 state ballot.
Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a resolution opposing the “Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation,” or PAUSE Initiative.
“You read that title and you go, well heavens, that’s common sense that we would want to do that,” Commissioner Mike Samson said in presenting the resolution to the board.
“But then you read the actual initiative, and it’s ridiculous.”
From redefining animal sexual abuse to apply to common cow-calf and other animal birthing practices used by ranchers, to establishing that livestock can’t go to market until reaching a certain age, “It’s just asinine, in my way of thinking,” Samson said.
Proponents of the initiative, including Front Range animal rights groups, were recently cleared by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to begin gathering signatures to put the question on the November 2022 ballot.
Several farming, ranching and livestock groups, including the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), Colorado Beef Council and Colorado Farm Bureau, have voiced opposition to the measure.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has also stated that he opposes the initiative. And, the Garfield County Democratic Party Chair, in a Monday Op-Ed published in the Post Independent, opposed the measure, as well.
“I’m glad to see that even people of more liberal flavor are coming out on this,” Samson noted. “It’s fitting to support our farms and ranches and the ag community, and to pass this (resolution).”
The county resolution urges Colorado residents to decline to sign the petition and keep it off the ballot in the first place, or to defeat it at the election if it does make it on the ballot.
It also asks the governor and the Colorado Department of Agriculture commissioner to continue their opposition to the measure.
“This board detests the infliction of needless suffering of animals and recognizes that our cattle and livestock producers take great effort to treat their animals humanely,” the county resolution states.
The provisions of PAUSE, however, would inflict harm on the farming and ranching industry by causing “tremendous delays” before an animal can be harvested.
Also, “Many farmers sell their crops to these producers, but because of the reduction or elimination of these livestock markets, many farmers will also struggle,” the county resolution states.
Proponents of the measure say it will simply extend to farm animals the same protections afforded by law to domestic pets.
“We believe there is no rational reason to exempt farmed animals from basic abuse laws that currently exist to protect our pets,” Colorado PAUSE states on its website.
Ginny Harrington, membership chair for the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association, the area chapter of the CCA, addressed the county commissioners Monday, noting the broad-based opposition from the agricultural community.
“We see this as an effort for people not to have animals, or to even have animal agriculture exist at all,” she said.
Debbie Bruell, who chairs the Garfield County Democrats, in her Monday commentary said the initiative lacks input from Colorado farmers and ranchers.
“PAUSE is based on inaccurate information about raising livestock, outlaws practices that actually benefit animals, and could have significant negative impact on ranchers’ ability to earn a living,” she wrote.
Instead, Bruell countered that efforts should be directed at keeping multinational corporate agriculture operations from pushing family-owned farms and ranches out of Colorado.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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