Colo. ag commissioner discusses town hall meetings and People for Animal Welfare committee
Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg has been on what she calls a listening tour around the state meeting with agriculture producers, most recently in Morgan and Yuma counties.
“I’m so honored to be welcomed in these communities,” she said. “I was hosted last week in Yuma by Kenny Rogers, a producer out there who wears many hats. We spent all afternoon touring different businesses in Yuma related to the ag economy, painting a picture from the banker to the implement dealer to the rancher.”
She said about 30 people attended the listening session at the day’s end, including past Commissioner Don Brown.
Labor, water and succession are themes that are being discussed at each stop, she said. She encourages producers to connect with the department through updates on the website.
Concern about the legislative session was paramount during her visit to Fort Morgan, accompanied by Gov. Jared Polis. After a heated meeting in Fort Morgan, Greenberg and Polis visited Empire Dairy in Wiggins, owned by the Dinis family, where they heard about technology and welfare.
“That was a bit different having the governor join us., she said. “That was a priority for him to get out as much as he can so I was delighted he was able to join us for the town hall in Fort Morgan and then also at the dairy.”
She said she heard concerns about the legislation being passed and the speed with which it is happening, something she said she understands coming from an area away from the Front Range, the place where she said the rubber meets the road and the work gets done.
The most recent announcement from Polis was about the formation of the People for Animal Welfare (P.A.W.) committee.
Greenberg said the Department of Agriculture has been working closely with First Gentleman Marlon Reis and his staff, as well as the governor to ensure that animal agriculture is supported moving forward.
“That’s such a big part of our work here at the Department of Ag, supporting livestock producers across the state,” she said. “This is an ongoing conversation and we’re very much a part of it. We talk in ag that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu with all kinds of issues — water, wildlife, etc.— this is another place we are doing our best to remain at the table, to keep a seat at the table.”
The committee does not include a member from animal agriculture. Greenberg said the department was a part of the conversation but none of the experts who contributed, including state veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr, were selected.
“Moving from here, we will be doing what we can from various perspectives, not necessarily from a seat on the committee, but from other ways we can contribute to make sure ag is represented in any animal welfare platform.”
ANIMAL WELFARE DAY
The governor proclaimed May 1 to be Animal Welfare Day and signed into law HB 19-1092, Animal Ban For Cruelty To Animals Conviction, and HB 19-1220, Court Facility Dog During Witness Testimony. The P.A.W. Committee was announced the same day by First Gentleman Reis. In a Facebook post, Reis said the committee “will guide me through the collective brilliance, knowledge and unsurpassed experience of its members, as we work together to make groundbreaking change that will benefit all animals: domestic, wild and farmed” in Colorado. Reis named the committee’s partners including the Denver Animal Shelter, Larimer Humane Society, Pet Overpopulation Fund, Dumb Friends League, Roice-Hurst Humane Society, Denver Public Health and Environment’s Animal Protection, Peace, Love and Paws, Animal Assistance Foundation, Institute for Human and Animal Connection, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, The Street Dog Coalition, CU Boulder Sociology, City of Boulder Police Department Animal Protection, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Committee members include Dr. Marc Bekoff, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, CU-Boulder; Dr. Apryl Steele, DVM, President, Denver Dumb Friends League; Justin Marceau, JD, Animal Legal Defense Fund Professor, University of Denver; Alice Nightengale, Director, Denver Animal Protection; Dr. E’lise Christensen, DVM, DACDV, veterinarian, Behavior Vets Colorado; Dr. Leslie Irvine, PhD, Professor, Arts and Sciences Council, CU-Boulder; Katie Parker, executive director, Animal Assistance Foundation; Phil Tedeschi, LCSW, director, Institute of the Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver; Dr. Jon Geller, DVM, executive director, The Street Dog Coalition; Dr. Carolyn Karrh, executive director, Peace, Love and Paws; Janee Boswell, Animal Control Supervisor, Boulder Police; Judy Calhoun, CFRE, CAWA, CEO, Larimer Humane Society; Anna Stout, executive director, Roice-Hurst Humane Society; and Diane Balkin, JD, senior staff attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund.
She said the department’s commitment to and expertise in animal production will be used moving forward, bringing agriculture to the table as the committee becomes active.
Greenberg said the department will be providing additional animal handling training for Colorado State Fair exhibitors, featuring Dr. Temple Grandin. Greenberg said the training is not meant to be redundant, as all junior livestock exhibitors are required to complete Beef Quality Assurance or Pork Quality Assurance training, but an opportunity to “increase skills and bring in a world-renowned trainer to support the great work the kids are already doing.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.