Elbert County commissioners unanimously voted to declare March 20 Cattlemen’s Day, in response to Colorado’s MeatOut day, which calls for residents to refrain from eating meat on March 20. MeatOut day has been touted by a D.C.-based animal-rights group since 1985, and the 2021 proclamation signed by Gov. Jared Polis states that “removing animal products from our diets reduces the risk of various ailments, including heart disease, high-blood pressure, stroke, various cancers and diabetes.”
Those statements, according to county commissioners, are unfounded and diminish the importance of the livestock industry in not just Elbert County, but all of Colorado.
“The governor’s proclamation erroneously states that eating meat is unhealthy, livestock production harms the environment, and supports animal cruelty,” states the BOCC resolution. “This is not only untrue, but it also denigrates the ranching families of Elbert County and their honorable profession.”
Commissioner Rick Pettit expressed concern about the state government trying to regulate ranchers and landowners in Elbert County.
“The eastern plains are definitely ranchers and cattle,” said Pettit. “To have a state government trying to dictate how people make their living, whether it’s oil and gas or ranching, trying to push their agenda, I think that’s wrong and we need to stand up to it.”
Commissioner Grant Thayer said he feels like MeatOut day is just one small facet of the state’s efforts to shut down ranchers altogether.
“It looks like our state government is really layering on negative aspects for the ag industry,” said Thayer, referring to the recent PAUSE proposed animal-welfare initiative filed with the state of Colorado. “I’m a retired rancher and there are just awful things coming down on the state level. ‘No Meat’ day is one thing, but there’s also the initiative that would basically make it illegal to neuter your dogs, you can’t fish, you can’t butcher a cow until it’s 5 years old and you can’t neuter your bull calf.”
Commissioner Chris Richardson expressed his disappointment in the governor’s proclamation.
“MeatOut day is very disappointing, and I think it was a very tone-deaf matter for the governor,” said Richardson. “He and the director of agriculture kind of tried to walk it back a little bit, and said it’s just a proclamation, but I would like to think the governor reads and understands what he signs. It has information in it that is entirely inaccurate. It claims that animal protein is unhealthy, that raising livestock harms the environment and pollutes the water. I don’t know anybody who cares for the property and animals more than ranchers.”
In honor of Cattlemen’s Day, local business owner Justin Hundley, co-owner of the Elizabeth Locker, said they will be holding a free barbecue for the public from noon until 5 p.m. The Elizabeth Locker has been operating in Elizabeth since 1944.
“The purpose of our barbecue/protest is instead of MeatOut day like Polis is talking, ours is going to be a MeatIn day. We’re having an open barbecue, with burgers, brats, all-beef hot dogs and pulled pork,” said Hundley.
Hundley said they have been promoting their barbecue on social media and through fliers circulated in the community. Attendance is free, but donations will be accepted to help offset the cost of the event, with leftover monies being donated to the local FFA chapter to support youth activities.