Responding to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ proclamation of MeatOut Day on March 20, the Montezuma County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution proclaiming it Cattlemen’s Day.
“The commission express their concern that the Governor of Colorado would call for a boycott, even of one-day duration, of an industry that is key and essential to both our local and state economy,” said Commissioner Joe Stevenson. “The county declares our support for our cattlemen and other livestock producers, and proclaims March 20, 2021, as Montezuma County Cattlemen’s Day.”
The county resolution highlights economic benefits of the livestock industry, which provides 1,013 local jobs, or 8% of total jobs in the county, representing the fifth-highest job creator, according to 2018 data compiled by Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado.
It notes that local ranching families are part of a $3.4 billion state industry with a $40 billion economic impact that accounts for 10% of the Colorado’s total export sales. The county Cattlemen’s Day resolution states that in 2017, the sale value of Montezuma County cattle, calves, poultry and hogs exceeded $16 million.
In 2018, government positions provided the highest number of jobs in Montezuma County, employing 2,738 people, or 21% of all jobs, according to the 2018 Region 9 data for the county. Health services have the second-highest, with 1,755 jobs, or 14%, and the retail industry is third with 1,563 jobs, or 12%. Acccommodation and food industry is fourth with 1,132 jobs, or 9%.
The average annual wage for agriculture in the county for 2018 is listed at $31,470, up 22% from 2017. The average annual wage for government jobs in 2018 was $48,710, a 2% drop from 2017.
Polis’ MeatOut Day proclamation touts health benefits of consuming less meat, and states that plant-based diets preserve the environment, prevent animal cruelty and reduce pollution.
The MeatOut movement was launched in 1985 and has gained momentum.
“More than 35 million Americans have explored a plant-based diet and reduced their consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs,” the governor’s MeatOut Day proclamation said. “Major food manufacturers and national franchises are marketing more vegan options in response to this growing demand.”
The county’s Cattlemen’s Day proclamation countered that “The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes that a variety of animal and plant proteins is important to a healthy diet.”
Commissioners added they support Senate Bill 21-079, which would deregulate direct-to-customer meat sales in support of private ranch-to-table sales.
Polis’ proclamation goes on to state that “Colorado is the proud home to farmers and ranchers alike and we recognize the importance of agriculture in the state.”
Montezuma County’s resolution said the governor’s proclamation is a “boycott of meat products in order to promote meatless diets as promoted by the Farm Animal Rights Movement.”
Weld County and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association also declared March 20 MeatIn Day to objected to Polis’ proclamation.
In an open letter to Livestock Producers, Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, addressed Polis’ MeatOut Day.
The letter states:
“I have spoken with many of you who expressed concern with the proclamation that designated March 20 as MeatOut day. I would like to clarify that this proclamation does not create a new state holiday, despite certain headlines, and that proclamations are nonbinding. Also, this is not a new proclamation — former Governor John Hickenlooper made a similar proclamation in 2011.
“The governor’s office processes hundreds of these requests by advocacy groups representing the wide spectrum of opinions that make up our great state. But still, you matter, your voice matters, and I am listening.
“From day one Governor Polis and I have focused on opening up new business for Colorado livestock producers from Taiwan to Mexico and promoting beef to consumers across Colorado.
We have targeted grant dollars to local processors (and we are) working with the legislature on proposals to support the agriculture industry that would invest in the future of our rural communities and open new markets.
“In addition, we have prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for the more than 220,000 critical food and agriculture workers in our state.
“You, your families, and your hard work are part of the backbone of Colorado’s rural communities. You help drive our economy, serve as stewards of public and private lands and innovators in tackling some of our biggest environmental challenges, and help ensure a safe, high-quality food supply for a growing population. I want you to know that I’ve got your back as you do what you do best.
“The livestock industry is an essential part of Colorado’s past, present and future. No proclamation will change that.”