Garfield County Commish climbs on ‘Meat-In Day’ chuckwagon

Several beef-producing counties countering governor’s ‘MeatOut Day’ proclamation

Cattle feed on hay in a calving field just south of Silt.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Garfield County is joining other ranching counties across Colorado in declaring “All Meats March” and designating March 20 as “Meat-In Day.”

The growing movement to encourage a day in support of livestock producers is meant to counter Gov. Jared Polis’s recently signed proclamation for March 20 to be “Meat Out Day.”

The mostly ceremonial, non-binding proclamation was put forward by the Farm Animal Rights Movement.

It is meant to encourage non-vegetarians to consider a day without meat and the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

The suggested proclamation was just one of dozens the governor’s office receives on a regular basis. Just last week, Polis also signed a proclamation declaring March 22 as Colorado Livestock Proud Day.

But Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said the MeatOut Day proclamation amounts to a “boycott” on meat products, and that it shows a disconnect between the governor and rural Colorado.

“Hopefully, a lot of people will be eating steaks and hamburgers that day,” Jankovsky said during the Monday Board of County Commissioners meeting when the resolution was unanimously approved by the board.

“It just continues to astound me the lack of concern this governor has for constituents in rural (Colorado),” he said. “This is a slap in the face for the ranchers and farmers of our state.”

The Governor’s Office responded to the backlash to the Meat Out proclamation with the following statement:

“Governor Polis is thrilled that he has helped start a grassroots movement of support for cattlemen and the beef industry. Governor Polis is a strong supporter of Colorado jobs in the meat industry and was just in Greeley and Fort Morgan where the state partnered to provide the lifesaving vaccine to meat processing workers.

“Governor Polis is enthusiastic about how his proclamation is drawing needed attention and support for our ranchers and agriculture economy,” the statement concludes.

The county resolution itself states that Polis has proclaimed a “boycott on meat products,” which is not true — though it does suggest a “meat-free holiday.”

The commissioners’ resolution goes on to note that ranching is part of Garfield County’s heritage, contributing to a $3.4 billion state industry with an overall $40 billion estimated economic impact, and accounting for 10% of the state’s export sales.

The resolution also lends the county commissioners’ support to Senate Bill 21-079 — currently being debated in the Colorado Legislature — which would deregulate direct-to-customer meat sales “in support of ranch-to-table private enterprise.”

Support for the counter-movement has come from the Garfield County Farm Bureau and the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association, the area chapter of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

The Farm Bureau and Hy-Way Feed and Ranch Supply in Silt are sponsoring two drawings for a cooler full of locally produced meat, one on Meat-In Day and another on National Ag Day, March 23.

The Cattlemen’s Association also has a prize drawing going and is encouraging people to support local restaurants by dining out and eating meat dishes.

Several west Garfield County ranchers have stepped up to sponsor a special Meat-In Day steak dinner at Miner’s Claim in Silt.

“They purchased a portion of the special that night, which is discounting it substantially,” owner Christian Harra said, adding he expects reservations to sell out quickly.

Harra said he’s not one to stir the pot and make things political, but said he values the area ranching families that have supported Miner’s Claim over the years.

“These are the people who have been supporting me for over 20 years, and I’ve watched their kids grow up and have kids of their own,” Harra said. “It’s a really tight community down here, and I’ve got nothing but good to say about the hard-working ranching families here.”

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