Colorado House Ag Committee Recap


House Ag Committee met on Monday, January 24th, to address its first three bills under the new chairman Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and vice chairman Rep. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulfur Springs). They welcomed many new committee members as the Republicans hold a 7-6 majority over the Democrats.

They passed HB 1004 (Farm Truck Registration) which CFB has a position of support on. This bill would allow for farm plate registration on a vehicle used primarily for agriculture on farm or ranch that is classified as Ag land for property tax purposes. It was run last year and was failed, so this is the second attempt at this measure.

The second bill was HB 1040 which extended state conservation board term limits to be four years, instead of three years.

The third and final bill was HB 1039 (animal cruelty regarding steer tailing). This is a measure brought forward by HSUS. The bill would have defined animal cruelty when dragging a bovine by the tail or lasso/rope legs of equine for entertainment or sport. The bill was killed by the House Ag Committee on a vote of 8-5. “No” votes to kill the bill were: J. Paul Brown, Don Coram, Marsha Looper, Wes McKinley, Ray Scott, Glenn Vaad, Randy Baumgardner, and Jerry Sonnenberg. CFB had a position of opposition on this measure.  If this bill would have passed, it would have had unintended consequences for production agriculture.   This bill, if it would have passed, would have defined and added two very specific issues to the Colorado Animal Welfare statute.  Current statute has broad definitions as to what constitutes cruelty but it allows an animal welfare control office the discretion to assess the situation to determine what is best for the animal.  The definition included in HB 1039 was a specific definition and would have limited the discretion of an animal control officer.   Colorado Farm Bureau believes that this is the wrong approach.

Testimony of Brent Boydston, V.P. of Public Policy for Colorado Farm Bureau on HB 1039.

Mr. Chairman, thank you giving the Colorado Farm Bureau the opportunity to testify on this issue.  Represenative McCann, thank you for bringing this bill forward and allowing us the opportunity to testify.

My name is Brent Boydston and I’m the Vice President of Public Policy for Colorado Farm Bureau.  First, I would like to offer a little bit of background on our organization.  We are the largest agricultural organization in the State representing 24,000 members.  Our members cover all facets of agriculture – from ranching on the western slope to farming on the eastern plains and fruit/vegetable growers on the Front Range and in the Grand Valley.

Colorado farmers and ranchers are committed to the humane treatment of animals, we work with and care for animals 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Our members are clear; we do not tolerate animal cruelty in our industry.  With that said, we feel that this bill is well intended but will have unintended consequences for production agriculture.  For this reason we are therefore opposed to this bill.  This bill, if passed, would define and add two very specific issues to the Colorado Animal Welfare statute.  Current statute has broad definitions as to what constitutes cruelty but it allows the animal welfare control office the discretion to assess the situation determine what is best for the animal.  The definition included in HB 1039 is a specific definition and would limit the discretion of an animal control officer.   Colorado Farm Bureau believes that this is the wrong approach.

Furthermore, the state legislature is not necessarily the best place to decide issues such as this.  While well-meaning, this issue should be dealt with by animal experts, producers and veterinarians.  This issue perfectly illustrates the need for an animal care advisory board concept that Colorado Farm Bureau strongly supported in SB08-201 but has yet to be established.  The 2008 legislation passed with bi-partisan support, at the request of Colorado’s agriculture community.  The bill encouraged the Department of Agriculture and the Commissioner of Agriculture to establish a process to consider questions arising in the future about livestock care and handling practices.  The intent was to consider the creation of an animal care advisory board whose role would be to access and recommend guidelines/standards for the humane treatment of various species of livestock.  These guidelines would be those practices recognized and accepted as best management practice of humane care and sound animal husbandry practices by knowledgeable animal care specialists.

At the end of the day, we believe, issues such as this should be analyzed on the basis of science, not emotion.

Don’t tie the hands of Colorado’s Animal Control Officers, allow them to do their job.  We ask for a “NO” vote on HB 1039.  Thank you for your time.  I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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One response to this post.

  1. Thanks for representing Colorado’s farm and ranch families on these issues. We’re thankful to have Colorado Farm Bureau carefully attending to these issues.

    Reply

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