It's Time That Colorado's 2nd Leading Economic Driver, Agriculture, Gets Some Respect
July 11, 2023 Opinion Editorial by Senators Bryon Pelton and Barbara Kirkmeyer published in Our Town Colorado
"Every now and then we all like to take a trip down memory lane.
When you are a senator serving in the minority, those memories can be painful sometimes. But try being a senator from rural Colorado in the minority and recalling all the bad legislation, proclamations, executive orders or department appointments that have come across the books over the past few years — painful doesn’t even begin to describe it.
We represent the heart of rural Colorado — Weld, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, and Yuma counties where agriculture is one of the top industries, and not just in our own counties, but also in our state and the nation. Weld County is the No. 1 beef producer in Colorado and among the top 5 in the United States.
And let’s not forget lamb, turkey, pig and chicken production as well as corn, wheat, potatoes, onions, carrots, the list of products coming out of northern and eastern Colorado goes on and on. Without the farmers and ranchers in Colorado to help feed America, the shelves at the supermarket would run dry.
In fact, agriculture is Colorado’s second highest economic driver, contributing $47 billion to the economy each year!
Yet, every year since he was elected Colorado’s governor, it appears that Jared Polis has enjoyed slapping our constituents in the face.
In 2019, it was the creation of new oil gas regulation via Senate Bill 19-181, which curtailed any new developments and eliminated thousands of jobs.
In 2020, he brought us Ellen Kessler as an appointee to the State Veterinary Board, sparking a lot of controversy in the ag community due to her animal rights activism and vegan lifestyle. She ultimately resigned in 2022 amid more controversy. Also in 2020, Polis signed a bill to overregulate the egg industry by mandating cage-free egg production, that contributed to the skyrocketing of egg prices after it took effect in 2023.
2021 was a big year for Polis. He signed Senate Bill 21-087 into law — the so-called agricultural labor rights and responsibilities bill, which set wage minimums and allowed ag workers to unionize. It has adversely affected many ag operations in just two years.
He also proclaimed March 20th as “Meat Out” day, encouraging Coloradoans to not eat any meat on that day. And his nepotism shined through when he gave his husband influence to make decisions around Proposition 16, better known as the PAUSE Act, which would have criminalized certain animal husbandry, reproductive health and medical practices; thankfully this was deemed unconstitutional by the courts, and it did not make it onto the 2022 ballot.
In 2022 Polis appointed yet another anti-agriculture woman to an important position. Rebecca Niemiec became the manager of the state’s Bureau of Animal Protection program. Niemiec conducted a study in support of wolf reintroduction.
And then just last month, Polis decided to veto Senate Bill 23-256, which would have ensured that livestock producers could protect their herds from Wolf attacks under the new introduction program and preserve their way of life.
Aside from all that, Polis insults the industry every year when he fails to recognize agriculture’s importance in his State of the State Address. He may have dropped a key word here or there over the years, but in five speeches, he has never made it a point to talk about or give credit to our industry. With how much thought that goes into preparing these speeches, nothing is ever forgotten by accident. Everything is by design.
This must stop! It’s time that Colorado’s ranchers and farmers get some respect from our Governor, and that starts with everyone in the industry making a presence by showing up to as many meetings and events as we can.
We greatly appreciate everyone who works in our food production process and chain. Stakeholders — whether they are cattle ranchers or grow corn — need to come together as one strong voice for Colorado agriculture. We are not a production type with divided stories. The Governor is ignoring us all together, so we need to all stand together!"
Link to Op Ed published by Our Town Colorado HERE