GABEL | Activist ‘acceptable’ animal husbandry inanity | Opinion



Rachel Gabel

Never have I ever had an animal health question and called an urban or suburban legislator for their expertise. Never has an animal-rights extremist group bent on ending animal agriculture showed up in a blizzard to help save calves. And never have I allowed words to pass my lips like “boy, we should legislate that” or “you know what we need is a ballot proposal.”

I was raised right.

A rancher faced with a question about animal health, vaccination regimens, livestock nutrition or livestock handling will turn to the experts in the field. Colorado State University extension, veterinary experts, the livestock organizations that represent the various producers throughout the state, and the groups that provide credible research and outreach have made the information that can be used to guide best management practices widely available.

I’m unwilling to allow the definition of acceptable animal husbandry practices to be left to those who are uninformed, lack expertise and are guided by extremist groups seeking to end animal agriculture. If you follow the money here, it’ll lead you to a fancy pair of vegan leather shoes. I recognize the need for regulations, and I understand the state statutes that criminalize animal abuse and neglect. If the statutory phrase “acceptable animal husbandry practices” is defined in state law, something that extremists would love, it’s the beginning of a slippery slope that will take producers and consumers down a path that ends with the demise of the state’s most important industry.

The Bureau of Animal Protection exists to assist law enforcement in the investigation of animal neglect and cruelty cases, and the BAP has the authority to remove companion animals, livestock and equines from situations of neglect or abuse. To investigate these reports, they depend upon veterinarians who are educated, trained and experienced in animal health. To define acceptable animal husbandry practices in statute implies that the state of Colorado trusts politicians and extremists more than veterinary practitioners, law enforcement and experts in livestock production.

It is redundant because experts have compiled resources that define how to best care for livestock. It is foolish because the laws cannot possibly address all livestock production methods, systems and practices for every species and every production model. We’re not Newsom’s Prop-12 California, after all. It is dangerous because it is emotionally charged to think about animals being mistreated, neglected or abused and reacting on emotion rather than fact is ill advised no matter the circumstance. And it is treacherous with an administration that has hung the keys to the kingdom where animal rights extremists can grab them.

All of this said, the pipe dream of the enforcement is laughable. For purposes of enforcing state statute that criminalizes animal abuse, law enforcement can be trained to determine body score condition of animals and identify whether there is appropriate and adequate feed and water for a particular species, and certainly trained to know when to call in veterinary experts . The waters muddy quickly when we attempt to define in statute the best methods to raise animals. It could be for use in criminal cases of animal abuse to determine the existence of abuse, but it’s more likely a matter of virtue signaling to other states that Colorado doesn’t trust livestock producers and would rather allow the experts in the legislature to dictate practices. . I’ll wait here while you compile a list of livestock production experts in the legislature.

With the current makeup of state government, any attempt to define acceptable animal husbandry practices in statute is likely to sound reminiscent of the PAUSE Act. This failed ballot proposal sought to end animal agriculture by criminalizing livestock producers and labeling them as sex abusers for using artificial insemination or assisting in a difficult calving, among other common practices. It also sought to define the natural lifespan for various species in statute and outlaw the slaughter of livestock until livestock lived up to 11 times longer than production, profitability and palatability suggest.

Any legislation that seeks to define acceptable husbandry practices provides a platform for extremists to snuff out an entire industry. Any attempt to do so must be met with enthusiastic opposition from Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg and Gov. Jared Polis. If they’re faced with this possibility and don’t move swiftly to protect the agriculture industry and the consumers who depend upon it, their silence will speak volumes.

Rachel Gabel writes about agriculture and rural issues. She is assistant editor of The Fence Post Magazine, the region’s preeminent agriculture publication. Gabel is a daughter of the state’s oil and gas industry and a member of one of the state’s 12,000 cattle-raising families, and she has authored children’s books used in hundreds of classrooms to teach students about agriculture.



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