We’ve got a beef with MeatOut (Editorial)
Colorado may be 1,500 miles from the Mid-Atlantic region, but farmers here can relate to the recent treatment the state’s livestock producers and their industry have been getting from its state government.
For most of March, Colorado farmers dealt with its own brand of madness after Gov. Jared Polis issued a proclamation making March 20 “MeatOut Day,” encouraging citizens to not eat meat that day.
The MeatOut proclamation scheme dates back to 1985, conjured up by the Farm Animal Rights Movement to discourage meat consumption.
The group writes the proclamations and pitches it to states and cities nationwide.
This year, only Colorado took the bait.
Earlier in his term, Polis proposed the idea of bringing a fake-meat factory to the state and tried to hasten the reintroduction of wolves to the state, much to the dismay of ranchers trying to protect their sheep and cattle.
To counter the MeatOut attack, livestock groups and 26 of the state’s rural counties billed the same day as MeatIn Day, encouraging people to order their favorite cut at a restaurant, organizing more than 100 barbecue events, and energizing a social media campaign from a bear of an industry that had been poked one too many times.
Governors in Nebraska and Wyoming issued proclamations supporting livestock farmers.
“While meat is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, there are radical anti-agriculture activists that are working to end meat production and our way of life here in Nebraska,” Gov. Pete Ricketts tweeted after his “Meat on the Menu Day” proclamation.
Predictably, Polis’ office first shrugged off the proclamation controversy as one of 100 or so “pro forma” exercises the governor auto-signed, then patted itself on the back for bringing attention to the livestock sector.
“Governor Polis is thrilled that he has helped start a grassroots movement of support for cattlemen and the beef industry,” his office said. “Governor Polis is enthusiastic about how his proclamation is drawing needed attention and support for our ranchers and agriculture economy.”
He also came back with another proclamation, designating March 22 Colorado Livestock Proud Day.
Meanwhile, in the state legislature, a ballot initiative proposed by two urban legislators carries the power to move the Colorado livestock industry back 50 years if not end it completely.
The ballot initiative ignores accepted animal husbandry practices by setting a “natural life” age for livestock species and criminalizing the slaughter of food animals at less then a quarter of that time.
In other words, beef cattle could not be harvested before five years, a chicken before two years and a pig or sheep before three years.
This preposterous standard goes far longer than what domestic and foreign markets accept, cutting the state’s livestock farmers out of key export market and erasing any chance of profitability.
Collectively, the state’s livestock industry accounts for more than $5 billion in economic activity, more than $1 billion in exports and tens of thousands of jobs statewide.
Beef cattle and dairy products are the state’s two largest ag sectors and create more than $3.6 billion in receipts.
The so-called Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation or PAUSE initiative, also classifies artificial insemination, castration and other management practices as a “sexual act with and an animal” opening it up to a charge of cruelty to animals.
The ballot initiative is set to go before voters in 2022 and if passed would take effect in April 2023.
The two attacks on animal agriculture in the Centennial State crystalize the growing divide in the mentalities of urban and rural residents, a problem Mid-Atlantic Farmers are unfortunately well aware of and continually battling.
Though the outcome of the PAUSE initiative is more than year away, it seems the MeatIn-MeatOut day dust up favors Colorado agriculture.
A FARM spokesperson said the group is loving the publicity the whole episode has caused, but added it could spell the end of MeatOut proclamations by states as governors will avoid them to skirt needless controversy.
That’s a win for livestock producers in all states.