From my standpoint, this is the most onerous initiative that has ever come to light. When it comes to livestock agriculture, it is going for the jugular,” Colorado Livestock Association’s Bill Hammerich said of Colorado Ballot Initiative 16.
During the June 2 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream sponsored by Select Sires, Hammerich outlined the initiative’s detailed definitions and the weight they would hang on the state’s $40 billion animal agriculture industry.
First, the initiative’s proponents intend to redefine “livestock” in the state to include fish, which would broaden the impacted industries in Colorado.
It also redefines what qualifies as a sexual act with an animal to include any object or person entering the genitalia or rectal area. This would, of course, impact important animal health monitoring tools and procedures such as fertility testing and artificial insemination.
“Next, much to the surprise or chagrin of a number of livestock people, it now defines the natural lifespan of all the species that are covered in this redefinition of livestock,” Hammerich shared.
“As an example, a cow according to this initiative has a natural lifespan of 20 years,” he continued. “That is important because further on in the initiative, it says that a cow, or any animal for that matter, cannot be slaughtered until they have lived one-fourth or 25% of their natural lifespan.”
For those doing the math, that would mean a cow, steer, or heifer would need to reach 5 years of age before slaughter – virtually eliminating the business of harvesting beef in the state.
Still far to go
While this ballot initiative has been introduced, it still has far to go if it will be voted on in November of 2022.
The state’s six major livestock organizations are petitioning that the initiative is too broad by state laws and that it uses inciting language. “We are currently before the Colorado Supreme Court,” Hammerich explained. “The initial briefs were filed May 4, the answer or responding briefs were filed May 24, and we are now just waiting for the justices to take a look at that. Hopefully, we will have a decision likely sometime in the middle part of this month or the early part of July.”
If the Supreme Court sides with the proponents of Colorado Ballot Initiative 16, they will have until October 18, 2021, to amass 125,000 signatures. If the livestock industry has a favorable result in the Supreme Court hearing, activists would be forced to return to near the beginning of the process.
“If that should happen, any signatures that they have gathered to this point then would be null and void and they would have to start over,” Hammerich said. “So, that window for gathering signatures would have been reduced significantly from the 180 days they had when they initially started.”
To watch the recording of the June 2 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program 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.