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Colorado has done it again.

First, it was the governor of the Centennial State declaring March 20 as “MeatOut Day,” and now there is a ballot initiative that, if passed in 2022, will devastate the state’s livestock industry.

According to published reports, Initiative 16, a section referred to as “Wilbur’s Law,” adds livestock and fish to the state’s animal cruelty law and redefines what constitutes a “sexual act with an animal,” including practices used in breeding and animal husbandry. PAUSE (Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation) states “any intrusion or penetration, however slight, with an object or part of a person’s body” into an animal would be a criminal act. In other words, AI would be outlawed, as would palpation, obtaining a pelvic measurement, collecting semen, castration or assisting in a difficult birth. Some veterinarians in Colorado have also voiced concerns it would be illegal to spay and neuter pets.

The initiative states it wouldn’t prevent someone from “dispensing care to an animal in the interest of improving that animal’s health.” However, opponents say there’s a misunderstanding of agricultural practices and caring for livestock.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is “looking” at the proposal. The anti-animal agriculture organization’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, said PETA is “all in favor of pointing out the sexual abuse of farmed animals, including cows who are violated during artificial insemination… piglets who are castrated while fully conscious and without pain relief; and many more.” That doesn’t surprise me. PETA likes to say farmers and ranchers as the bad guys. Yet, PETA has euthanized more than 40,000 dogs and cats since 1998, some only weeks old and only minutes after being taken to PETA’s only shelter in Virginia. 

Initiative 16 also requires the slaughtering of livestock only occurs if an animal has lived a quarter of its natural lifespan. Cattle have a 20-year lifespan, so feeder calves will be oxen before being processed. That’s a lot more feed, and beef quality will be low. It will be genuinely aged before it ever hits the packer.

The two designated representatives of the initiative are Alexander Sage of Broomfield, Colo., and Brent Johannes of Boulder, Colo. The duo, who have not consented to any interviews with Colorado media, allegedly have ties to “radical animal extremist” organizations and are pushing the initiative to destroy animal agriculture. They and their supporters must gather 124,632 valid voter signatures to get it on the November 2022 ballot. There’s a chance PULSE will gather enough signatures, and that spells bad news for farmers, ranchers and feedlot owners. 

There will be lots of misinformation about farming while supporters try to gather the needed signatures. Hopefully, agriculture-related organizations and groups are already working to stop the measure before it even gets to the ballot. If not, they will be behind the proverbial “eight ball.”

If the measure  does get on the ballot, I’m sure there will be tremendous donations from groups like PETA to promote a “yes” vote by Colorado residents. There will be some highly-paid actors with non-farming backgrounds stumping for votes, claiming cows are “raped” and “sexually tortured” to make farmers and ranchers sound like deviants. Sadly, they are trying to compare farming practices to bestiality to get some votes. 

What does a petition going around in Colorado have to do with farming and ranching in the Ozarks? More than you may realize. Animal-rights extremists are doing everything they can to destroy farmers and ranchers, and they will not stop at state lines. Oregon has a similar, basically identical, ballot measure seeking support. I have a sneaking suspicion we will see more and more of these pop up across the country if these measures in Colorado or Oregon get on the ballot; these are just test runs by anti-ag groups. You might be saying to yourself, “that won’t do that here,” think again; it can and will happen one day. 

If passed, Initiative 16 opens the pathway to making it a crime to vaccinate an animal without sedatives, milk an animal, or house an animal in a fenced area. PETA and organizations like it could one day get their wish that all animals can roam free without human intervention. If that were to occur, not only would humans die from starvation, but so would millions of animals because of overpopulation and a slew of diseases. How organizations claiming to care about animals think this is a good idea is beyond me. 

Producers need to be aware of issues brewing about the industry and take a stand. Ask your local, state and federal lawmakers what they are doing to protect agriculture against anti-farm-related organizations; they all have lobbyists on the payroll. It takes a lot more than being a right-to-farm state or community to protect farmers and ranchers and their way of life. It takes someone willing to stand up, not stand in line, to protect American’s farmers and ranchers.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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