A ballot initiative for Colorado is making waves as it gains momentum. Farm and ranch people on the Western Slope and definitely in Norwood are fuming mad as they read about how proposed initiative 16 would criminalize animal husbandry practices and literally kill agriculture as we know it.

Commissioner Kris Holstrom told The Norwood Post it’s bad — “really bad, actually, in my opinion,” she said.

According to her, two men on the Front Range, who are younger, started the initiative. This was after one worked on an organic chicken farm and reported that chickens didn’t have appropriate food or water. After his experience, he began working on an animal cruelty bill, but where it’s gone is dangerous for those who raise animals.

Basically, because of its language, the proposition makes illegal artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer, something many animal breeders rely on. AI and embryo transfer are common certified practices across the board in the livestock industry. Holstrom said the initiative takes out terminology with accepted animal husbandry practices related to livestock and fish.

“This whole sexual act with an animal,” she said. “It means an act between a person and animal, direct physical contact.”

Because of the wording, Number 16 would literally make illegal even pregnancy testing of livestock. Holstrom said even grooming animals and brushing up against their genitals could be considered unlawful.

Additionally, another thing she described as “disturbing, or problematic” is that the bill defines a natural lifespan for livestock and declares one cannot harvest an animal unless it has lived a quarter of its natural life span. Holstrom said she has no idea where the concept or numbers have come from.

“For example, the lifespan of a cow is 20 years, and you cannot harvest a cow until five years,” she said. “A chicken is eight years — it doesn’t say where this came from — a pig is 15, a sheep is 15.”

Holstrom has people from local farms in the Telluride region calling her to ask, “Is this real?”

She said her opinion was that the people sponsoring the bill should have taken up their issue with the farm that they accused of neglect. Instead, they’ve started an initiative that destroys farms and ranches in Colorado.

She said what’s worse is that folks on the Front Range could misinterpret the bill. She said people often read titles, like “animal cruelty,” and think they’re in support of it.

Rather than reading what’s behind it, people could make a split decision to support the bill, not knowing what they’re doing to the beef, lamb or pork industry — not to mention other related industries, like breeding dogs and horses.

Holstrom said former county administrator Lynn Black, who has bred dogs, is also against the bill.

Since Number 16 is gaining momentum for a vote in 2022, Holstrom agreed now is the time to educate the public. Now though, the men behind the bill have their title approved and are gaining signatures on the Front Range.

“What a world … I don’t know,” Holstrom said. “I think it’s important that people know. Hopefully they don’t get the signatures they need.”

Anyone who’d like more information may read coloradopause.org/about.