Valley counties support livestock producers

Photo by Rebecca Copley In response to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’, ‘Meat-Out Day,’ proclamation encouraging Coloradans to go meatless for a day, thousands answered by having a ‘Meat-In Day.’ Many enjoyed barbecue and steak dinners in response to the governor’s vegan request and supported the livestock industry in the state. The Monte Vista Coop hosted a hamburger fry on March 20 to support Colorado ag and livestock industries.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — At least five of the six counties in the San Luis Valley passed resolutions recently decrying the move of Governor Jared Polis’ declaration of March 20 as “Meat-OUT Day,” asking the state’s residents to avoid eating animal products on that day.

County commissioners in Alamosa, Rio Grande, Saguache, Conejos and Mineral counties joined more than 25 counties across the state passing resolutions opposing Polis’ move. The resolutions ranged from declaring March 20 “MEAT-IN” day in Alamosa County to “Know Your Local Producer” day in Saguache County.

Conejos County commissioners proclaimed the day as the annual “Cattlemen’s, Ranchers and Farmers” day.

Ben Doon, county administrator for Costilla County, said his commissioners continue to support local agriculture through direct action, such as leasing the 1,200-acre Carpenter Ranch for grazing for local ranchers every April.

The county provides in-kind support to local acequias (irrigation ditches) by supporting infrastructure projects with equipment and operators, and the county provides high protein canola feed to local ranchers, a by-product of the county’s biodiesel production.

With $2 billion in livestock sales in 2018, Weld County in the northeast quarter of the state, was the first to pass a resolution.

Various counties across the state have passed resolutions recognizing the “contributions of cattlemen and other livestock producers” in their areas.

Alamosa’s resolution proclaims March 20, 2021 as Alamosa County Ranching and Agricultural Day, and Alamosa County “MEAT-IN” day, and encourages the community to continue to support local businesses by celebrating “MEAT-IN” day at your local restaurant of choice.

The statement goes on to say, “the Board of County Commissioners expresses its concern that the Governor of Colorado would call for the boycott, even for one day, of an industry that is so vital to our local and state economy.”

The commission also supports Senate Bill 21-079 concerning deregulation of direct to customer meat sales in support of ranch to table private enterprise and for all other legislative actions that support strengthening Colorado agriculture.

Alamosa County’s resolution quotes dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizing “that a variety of animal and plant proteins is important to a healthy diet. Cattle, livestock, and the production of crops supporting the livestock industry has historically been, and continues to be, one of the key economic drivers in Alamosa County.”

Statistics quoted in the resolution show, “in 2016, the North American Meat Institute reported a direct economic impact to the state of Colorado of $3.7 billion, and a total economic impact of $13.2 billion. This generated nearly $32 million in taxes to the State of Colorado.”

The USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture reported all animal sales in the San Luis Valley totaled nearly $57 million, of which approximately $39 million was the result of cattle sales. According to the USDA, the San Luis Valley has a current cattle inventory of 85,300 head.

Additional documentation shown is the number of jobs in agribusiness in the San Luis Valley is 4,984, which represents 25.6% of all traditional base jobs and is the largest traditional base industry employer of the San Luis Valley.

Alamosa County is declared a “Right to Farm and Ranch” county and fully supports the agriculture community by its support of Colorado State University Extension Services, youth 4-H programs, and the San Luis Valley Fair Board.

According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Alamosa County ranked 18thof the state’s 63 counties in 2018 in total agricultural production at $89.3 million. Saguache County ranked 13that $105.4 million, followed by Rio Grande County at $99 million. Conejos was 35that $53.9 million, followed by Costilla at 39thwith $22.1 million. Mineral County did not report.

The total ag production of the SLV in 2018 was nearly $370 million.