On March 17, 2021 the Ballot Title Setting Board approved the PAUSE initiative (Prop. 16).
This ballot initiative, pushed by individuals from Boulder and Broomfield, neither of which have any ranching experience whatsoever, would be nothing short of detrimental to Colorado’s livestock industry. If this effort gets the 125,000 necessary signatures in favor of the proposition, you will be voting on the question on your 2022 ballot.
The problem? If this proposition qualifies for the ballot AND passes, this amendment will drastically and unrealistically redefine slaughter regulations & will criminalize common, safe & humane practices (approved by professionals like the American Veterinary Medical Association) used to breed livestock and produce animal products such as meat and milk.
The proposed initiative would first ban the slaughter of any animal in Colorado that has not yet reached 25% of their “natural lifespan”.
There’s five main issues with this:
1. Animal Husbandry & Meat Quality: most species of livestock have been selectively bred to gain weight quickly & efficiently. If we raise animals past their traditional age of slaughter or market weight, meat quality decreases, each animal’s quality of life declines, and production costs increase for keeping animals on feed. Imagine your ground beef being about 4x the current price, and not tasting nearly as good…
2. Decrease in Production Efficiency: This initiative would slow down the time it takes to raise livestock and to get meat from farm to table. It would increase production costs and max out the capacity of livestock raising facilities, limiting the number of animals we are able to raise at one time and therefore reduce the amount of meat available for consumers to purchase.
3. Environmental Impact: For the beef industry specifically, this would change how cattle are fed, requiring cattle to be finished only on grass, rather than on grain. It is more efficient and to finish cattle on feedlots than in pastures. This could have environmental impacts if we must keep grazing animals on pasture to extend their growing time.
4. Increased Consumer Cost: by increasing production time & production costs, we will also see a correlation with increased meat & milk prices on grocery shelves.
5. Economic Impact: By changing the currently accepted age of slaughter, Colorado ranchers would lose some of our foreign meat export partners, like Japan. The state’s financial wellbeing would also suffer if animal products are less available and less affordable for consumers to buy, given the livestock industry contributes $7 billion to the state economy.
Secondly, this initiative changes the definition of a “sexual act with an animal” and criminalizes common animal breeding practices like artificial insemination, pregnancy checking, semen collecting, and fertility testing. Each of these are safe and efficient practices approved by professionals.
Fertility testing is important to ensure the reproductive efficiency of an animal herd.
Pregnancy checking by hand is a safe and affordable practice to ensure the health of female animals and their offspring– especially when pregnancy checking with equipment like an ultrasound is unavailable or inconclusive.
Semen collection allows ranchers to test the fertility of their sires and also allows for the practice of artificially inseminating females.
Artificial insemination (A.I.) is used to safely and efficiently breed livestock in a controlled environment.
There are many benefits of A.I. The use of artificial insemination:
1. Reduces the risk of animal or handler injury when breeding
2. Increases the chance a female will become pregnant as producers are better able to track her ovulation cycles, allowing reproduction at just the right time
3. Helps sync the reproductive cycles of multiple females in a herd for easier breeding, as well as easier birthing and care of newborn offspring.
4. Allows ranchers to select and breed for specific genetic traits to improve herd quality.
5. Reduces disease transmission between animals.
6. Gives livestock producers the opportunity to breed animals that reside in different areas, even thousands of miles apart.
Lastly, the current practices this proposition seeks to outlaw do not make livestock subject to “unnecessary suffering” or “exploitation” like the name of this initiative implies. Colorado livestock producers are hard working, honest, and treat their animals with the utmost respect, dignity, and compassion.