Pueblo County Commissioners establish 'Cattlemen's Day' in response to governor's 'Meat Out'
Pueblo County Commissioners issued a proclamation Tuesday designating "Pueblo County Cattlemen's Day” on March 20, the same day Gov. Jared Polis is calling for a meat product boycott.
Commissioners said Polis’s “Meat Out Day,” which is supposed to promote meatless diets, isn’t a celebration of a vegetarian lifestyle, but rather a snub on the contributions of Colorado’s cattlemen and agricultural workers.
“The Board of County Commissioners express its concern the Governor of Colorado would call for a boycott, even of one-day duration, of an industry that is key and essential to both our local and state economy,” the proclamation reads.
Polis announced the meat-free day in late February and has since faced backlash from agricultural associations, cattlemen groups and county governments. Pueblo County joins 21 other counties that have either draft or final resolutions for a “Cattlemen’s Day” or “Meat In Day” on March 20.
Pueblo County has been home to the Colorado State Fair since 1872, a major event for cattleman and agricultural workers.
“Long before Pueblo was known for the steel industry, it was known as a cattle area of the country,” Pueblo County Commissioner Chris Wiseman said.
“It’s an extremely important part of our economic stability here.”
The proclamation notes that cattle and livestock is a $3.4 billion state industry that accounts for 10% of the state’s total export sales. Additionally, the cattle and livestock industries also support grain and wheat farming in the state.
“When you use that splash-over effect, all of a sudden talking about ‘Let’s not eat meat, let’s not eat beef,’ you’re talking about Colorado’s whole agricultural economy,” former Colorado Agricultural Commissioner Don Brown said during Tuesday’s working session.
Wiseman emphasized that his concern comes from the language of Polis’ designation, not a vegetarian lifestyle itself.
“If you want to make it a day to celebrate a different type of diet, let’s do that. Let’s talk about 'Vegetarian Day.' Let’s celebrate that as a diet that people enjoy eating. ‘Meat Out’ means something totally different to me, and that’s the issue I have,” he said.
“We’re making a point that we’re standing behind the cattle industry in a real way.”
Chieftain reporter Sara Wilson can be reached via email at SWilson@gannett.com.