An attempt at a Colorado vote initiative to criminalize normal breeding procedures such as artificial insemination must return to the drawing board after a 7-0 Colorado Supreme Court decision ruled that the State Title Board had wrongly given the go-ahead for Initiative 2020-21 # 16. The state’s livestock groups can also join forces to propose a proactive measure to isolate the sector from this type of activity in the future. ‘to come up.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 7-0 against Initiative 16, determining that it did not meet the requirements of a single subject for a citizen vote initiative. The Court ruled that Initiative # 16 contained multiple topics and, given its complexity, could mislead voters when voting. The Court rescinded the title and returned to Council with instructions to return the Initiative to its proponents for lack of jurisdiction because the single subject requirement was not met.
Animal welfare advocates were trying to put the Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE) initiative on the ballot in November 2022. The initiative would criminalize farmers, ranchers and veterinarians who use accepted husbandry practices to care for animals and would change state law. language to define common animal care practices as “cruelty to animals”. It also includes the criminalization of actions such as sterilization and sterilization, assisted childbirth and reproductive practices such as artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis and fertility tests.
The action would also ban the slaughter of animals that have lived less than 25% of their “natural” lifespan. It would probably be a much longer standard than what consumers and foreign markets are asking for.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, along with its partners Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado Pork Producers Council were formed Colorado for animal care, a coalition group to fight against the initiative. The coalition challenged the Title Board’s decision to endorse the Signature Collection Initiative, saying it covered multiple topics and included inflammatory language. After losing the Title Board challenge, the group appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, said the Supreme Court’s 7-0 decision speaks volumes about their challenge.
However, Fankhauser knows this fight is not over yet, but could adopt a different form of voting initiative as he sees Colorado as a “playground for easy voting initiatives.” He says the coalition is looking for ways to strengthen the requirements for ballot initiatives that allow those good ideas to succeed, but limit the bad ones.
He says this has awakened his organization’s leaders to the need to protect themselves further from frivolous attacks on the livestock and meat industry. “It wasn’t about animal welfare, it was about reducing the possibility of having a choice,” says Fankhauser.
Related: National Animal Groups Avoid Oregon, Colorado Initiatives
Janie VanWinkle, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, appreciates the coalition and statewide support to oppose this measure. “It would deprive the consumer of their choice and in so doing harm our environment, our economy and the very animals that the proponents claimed to want to protect.”
“Colorado pork producers applaud the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to end the reckless Pause Act voting initiative,” said Juli McCaleb, president of the Colorado Pork Producers Council. “We were confident in our challenge to this law and applaud the diverse members of Colorado’s agriculture industry who strive every day to provide the safest, highest ethical food to the world.”
If the promoters wish to continue with the measure, they will have to rewrite and file another title with the Title Commission, starting the process again. All the signatures that were collected are now void.
Fankhauser says supporters “not only have a lot of time, but a lot of time” to see another similar version on the ballot again.
However, Carlyle Currier, a Molina rancher and president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, says it sends a strong message to supporters of the measure and anyone else interested in a responsible voting initiative process. “This process has been abused for far too long, and it is another reminder that ambiguous language, bait-and-swap tactics, and attempts to cover up the real results of voting initiatives are bad for our state and will not be allowed to stand. “
Fankhauser says the coalition lists legislative or voting initiatives that exist in other states to protect farmers, animals as well as consumers. This could include measures to ensure that, regardless of the voting initiative adopted, a higher threshold of voters or voters are found in geographically dispersed areas and not just in urban centers.