Letter: Governor’s veto disregards needs of livestock producers

As a livestock producer in Jackson County, I am beyond frustrated with the Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to deny the will of the legislature and veto SB23-256, Management of Gray Wolves Reintroduction. This decision has disregarded the needs of our industry and the voices of producers, like myself. 

This bill would have provided much-needed flexibility in wolf management practices to protect the livestock industry. SB23-256, with broad bipartisan support, was carefully crafted with input from various stakeholders, including livestock producers and Western slope community members.

We did not ask for wolves to be introduced into our rural communities. We did not vote for Proposition 114, which narrowly passed. Throughout the wolf introduction process, we have cooperated to ensure the introduction is successful while ensuring we have all the tools in the toolbox to protect our livelihoods.

The governor’s veto shows a lack of understanding of the needs of our industry and discounts the critical role that livestock producers play in our state’s economy and food supply. We have attempted to mend relationships and work with our state’s leadership, and in return, these choices show a lack of respect and care for our industry and communities. As our rural communities are struggling, it is disappointing to see the governor continue prioritizing political interests over the interest of Colorado’s hardworking farmers and ranchers and the viability of western slope communities.

Thank you to the bill sponsors for representing and standing steadfast with the constituents and representing the voices of the Western Slope. We applaud their ability to gather overwhelming bipartisan support for this bill. It is frustrating to see how this decision outright ignores the hard work of Colorado’s elected officials throughout the legislative session to represent their constituents.

Colorado’s agriculture community faces challenges daily, including the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and uncertainty in markets; they don’t need to also worry about how state government officials may affect their abilities to operate. Even with this decision to veto this bill, livestock producers will continue to provide for our state, even with the impending wolf introduction. How can we work together to ensure agriculture production and producers will not be harmed through the wolf introduction process? Prop 114 specifically stated the need to “prevent and resolve conflicts between gray wolves and livestock” and livestock producers need certainty for management flexibility before wolves are introduced.

Our ask of the governor is simple: We must work together and support the industry that feeds, clothes and fuels our state. Let’s recognize the benefits that livestock producers bring to the environment, wildlife, and rural communities and work together to ensure the futures of our western slope communities.

Philip Anderson

President of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

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