At this point, many in agriculture have heard of the petition in Colorado that is proposing a ballot initiative to, among other things, ban artificial insemination in the state and require a mandatory age limit for all livestock butchered in the state. While the June 2 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream sponsored by Select Sires covered many aspects of the implications of such a bill becoming legislation, one of the resounding comments of the day came from the Colorado Livestock Association’s Bill Hammerich.
“If you take all of the livestock industry in Colorado from the farm to the consumer, we are about a $40 billion industry,” he explained.
That makes agriculture among the top four most important industries from a perspective of gross domestic product (GDP) in the state each year alongside tourism, technology, and oil and gas.
“We don’t need to be hyperbolic; this has real impacts on the economy all the way up and down the supply chain. That’s an argument that should have some weight,” added Cornell’s Chris Wolf.
While many conversations can surround the animal welfare and political aspects of such a bill, Wolf says the economic perspective is often overlooked, misrepresented, or downplayed.
“Whenever I see a survey that says 80% of people think this or 40% of people think that, the first thing I always think is ‘Talk is cheap.’ There’s a difference between saying you want to do something and actually doing it,” he continued.
In particular, Wolf acknowledged that many people who take part in surveys or polls carry a certain bias with them, whether it’s the bias of a hypothetical situation or a desire to answer in such a way that will elevate someone’s opinion of them.
What their wallets say
“Research has also shown that half of the people who voted for changes on the ballot initiative like this – for example Prop 2 in California – did not consider the economic implications of what they voted for,” Wolf explained. “They hadn’t considered the fact that their food bill was going to go up. They hadn’t considered the fact that this was going to change the livelihood of many people in agriculture and in processing and in other parts of the supply chain.”
When push comes to shove, Wolf points to consumer behavior as an indication of their three primary food concerns – food safety, quality, and price.
“Those overwhelm the other concerns for most everyone. Then, there’s a smaller and generally very vocal group that cares a great deal about animal welfare,” Wolf detailed.
In the case of the economic impact of the proposed Colorado legislation, the blow would be significant up and down the supply chain, affecting everyone from the farmer to the single mother in the grocery store aisle. That’s something that should bear weight as animal activists attempt to pursue the end of animal agriculture.
To watch the recording of the June 2 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is also available as an audio-only podcast. Click here to listen or download.
An ongoing series of events
The next broadcast of DairyLivestream will be on Wednesday, June 30 at 11 a.m. CDT. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.