DENVER — Proponents of a citizen-initiated ballot measure that would ban any facility where livestock animals are killed to produce food have turned in petitions for certification to the Denver Clerk & Recorder.
Advocates need 8,940 valid signatures from registered Denver voters to get the measure on the April 2024 municipal ballot. The ordinance targets any facility that processes meat defined as “livestock” under Colorado law, including beef, lamb, poultry, pig, etc.
Opponents say the ban would cost hundreds of workers their jobs, as well as create a larger ripple effect into the state’s economy if passed.
Denver election officials did not return phone calls from Complete Colorado seeking the number of signatures turned in.
Complete Colorado first broke the story on the initiative earlier this year.
According to the Denver election website, issue committees have been formed both for and against the measure. The treasurer for Pro Animal Denver, which supports the ban, is reported to be Aiden Cook, a long-time animal rights activist from the Denver/Boulder area who previously supported having the mutton bustin’ competition pulled from the National Western Stock Show.
That committee has already raised nearly $100,000 from just two contributors. Pro-Animal Future ($86,400), a Colorado-based organization with the mission to “end animal farming in Colorado” and Owen Gunden ($11,490), a New York-based philanthropist who “aims to make the world a kinder place for non-humans,” according to his bio on the Woodstock Fruit Festival website.
Pro-Animal Future, which also supports a ban on fur sales in Denver, does not list any of its donors on its website.
The opposition committee “Protect Jobs. Protect Choice.” has not reported any contributions as of Nov. 6.
The measure titled “Prohibition of Slaughterhouses” would outlaw “the construction, maintenance, or use of” any meat processing facilities in Denver beginning January 1, 2026, as well as “require the city to prioritize residents whose employment is affected by the ordinance in workforce training or employment assistance programs.”
The legislative intent of the proponents includes seeking an increase in plant-based protein sources, as well as pushing the claim that livestock is a major contributor to climate change, though no explanation is provided as to how pushing existing meat processing outside of Denver city limits would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Roger Sherman, a partner in CRL Associates, a Denver-based government and public affairs marketing firm told Complete Colorado that among the businesses the measure takes aim at is Superior Farms, one of the largest lamb processing facilities in the United States, and which has been in operation in Denver since the 1950s. They not only ship their product out of state but to almost every grocery store and restaurant in Colorado that sells lamb.
“This measure targets a 70-year-old employee-owned company, providing over 170 employee-owners good wages and benefits. It will cost taxpayers an estimated $70 million to compensate Superior Farms for forcing the business to close,” said Sherman. “That’s money the city could use for more important issues. It’s the wrong approach.”
Complete Colorado will continue to follow the process.
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