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Ag groups fight Initiative 16

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Colorado Initiative 16, formerly known as the Protecting Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE) Act, has resulted in action from the Colorado agriculture community.  

The National Western Stock Show (NWSS) stated, “The initiative would change state statutory language in order to redefine several common animal husbandry practices as cruelty to animals.” 

NWSS also shared the ballot initiative would ban slaughter for animals less than 25 percent of their natural lifespan and has implications for reproductive practices such as spaying, neutering, birth assistance, artificial insemination, pregnancy checks and fertility testing. 

Coalition formation 

The threat to agriculture from Initiative 16 led to the formation of Coloradans for Animal Care (CAC) which consists of six Colorado-based livestock organizations, including Colorado Farm Bureau (CFB), Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Wool Growers Association (CWGA), Colorado Livestock Association (CLA) and the Colorado Pork Producers Council. 

On March 24, Coloradans for Animal Care filed for a rehearing to challenge the title set for the initiative on March 17.   

“Initiative 16 addresses animal production practices, but it is more about crippling animal agriculture,” stated Kenny Rogers, a Yuma rancher and president-elect of the CLA. 

CCA President and Rancher Janie VanWinkle said, “Initiative 16 would eliminate the exception for accepted husbandry practices for animals, which opens the door to allegations that even the most common practices constitute animal cruelty. For example, if a court concluded spaying or neutering livestock was an unjustifiable procedure deeming it mistreatment, the rancher could be convicted, perhaps once for each animal.” 

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser tweeted, “Colorado’s farming and livestock businesses are the backbones of rural communities. This measure isn’t based on science and will raise food prices for us all. Worse yet, it will cost rural jobs & devastate communities. I will be fighting against it.” 

Lora Bledsoe, a Colorado State University-trained large animal practitioner, said the initiative sets a dangerous precedent for veterinary medicine in the state. 

She explained, “It takes the control out of the hands of those who have dedicated their lives to learning the proper and appropriate husbandry and health care of livestock animals and gives it to whomever can shock, awe and confuse the urban public of the Front Range.” 

“If passed, this measure won’t result in better animal care, it will instead result in the death of an economic pillar of the state,” Bledsoe stated. 

Possible effects  

Initiative 16 could possibly trail along an assortment of implications which could hurt the state of Colorado. According to NWSS, Colorado’s $5 billion livestock industry and their $1 billion beef export markets could be severely impacted by Initiative 16. 

NWSS also shared, “The initiative may shut down most of Colorado’s beef and lamb processing plants, leading to a major loss of jobs and could possibly result in increases in consumer cost for meat.” 

Initiative 16 may also result in practices, considered cruel by some, for animals by requiring a change in production practices as well as erase agriculture’s heritage in Colorado by banning rodeos, county and state fairs and horse shows. 

Former Colorado Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray) said, “The language bans the spaying and neutering of pets and the castration of farm animals. It sets up a court case to challenge this. People would have to show it’s medically necessary for the health of the animal.” 

“Processing plants would likely be shut without a market for five-year-old beef,” Brophy stated. “With some of the world’s largest processing plants in the state, the economic losses would be substantial.” 

“I’m not a fan of the ballot initiative process, period,” Brophy continued. “I can’t think of anything good that has come through the ballot initiative process at all. Liberty is at risk to this process and it makes me nervous.” 

Title inaccuracy 

On April 6, the title board acknowledged the issues with earlier errors in setting a title for the PAUSE Act, but failed to ensure Colorado voters will receive a title which would accurately reflect the overreaching measures that may steer several agriculture producers away from Colorado’s agriculture industry. 

Coloradans for Animal Care plan to ask the Supreme Court to look into the results of ideas which do not meet the constitutional definition of a single subject as well as correct the misleading language of the ballot title. 

A spokesperson for Coloradans for Animal Care said, “The title board was wrong in its decision today. The difficulty the board had when setting the language of the title is evidence of this. At least three subjects of the initiative and the language of the title are still inaccurate and misleading, and we are hoping the Supreme Court will agree.”  

The title board premeditated for over two hours, referring to the initiative as “ambiguous and incomplete” in describing the difficulty they had when setting a title for the initiative. Public participants also brought to attention the difficulty they had interpreting the initiative’s actions based on updated language of the title. 

Madi Slaymaker is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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