Lewis announces bid for reelection to continue her fight for ag
Rep. Kimmi Lewis, a rancher from Kim, Colo., has announced her campaign for reelection to her post as state representative of House District 64. The district encompasses Baca, Bent, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Las Animas, Lincoln, Prowers and Washington counties, mostly known for agriculture production.
During her terms serving the huge district, she fought for rural Colorado on issues including the mislabeling of non-animal and lab-grown meat, transparency of conservation easements, requirements for landowner consent listing properties on the National Register of Historic Places, the return of Country of Origin Labeling for beef, and, as she said, for some common sense at the Capitol.
“One of the reasons I want to rerun is I think we have some things that are undone,” Lewis said. “The biggest thing we started is on the conservation easement bill.”
One of the first bills she wrote in 2017 was to create a database for counties with easements, those disallowed, those abandoned, and whether or not the conservation work required is being done. The list is nearing completion and results are close at hand but the amount of work still to do is significant.
“The taxpayers of Colorado have been wronged by the Colorado Department of Revenue in the way they would wait until the last few days in the period of whether the easement would go through or not before sending the landowner fees and penalties after pulling the easement,” she said.
The interest and penalties, she said, are a serious issue in her district where 80 percent of the disallowed easements are located, and she wants to see the fees and penalties refunded to landowners.
As a beef producer, Lewis said she is upset with the fake meat news of late.
“I’m upset that the governor would use his position to push veggie burgers or fake meat burgers over real protein when the majority of my district is all rural and agricultural,” she said. “It’s all part of the Green New Deal and we’re not going to put up with it here in Colorado.”
RANCHING IS KING
Lewis’ district is filled with some of the state’s largest cattle ranches and is steeped in the history and the future of the industry, including her own cattle operation with history and significance to the local and state economies. The land there, she said, isn’t suited to raising soybeans or other ingredients commonly found in plant-based beef substitutes, making the assumption that ranchers can retool their operations impractical.
“It takes water to grow things,” she said. “Down here, I live on a high desert where there’s cactus and rocks and rattlesnakes and cedar trees. We only get 8 to 12 inches of rain and that’s in a good year.”
The families who have raised cattle for generations, she said, are the picture of real sustainability and wouldn’t still be in business after 100 years if they weren’t.
“There’s more work to do,” she said. “I need to stay in there for at least one more term. We need to put the spotlight on ag and thank the people who feed the world.”
Lewis said she’s hopeful that there will soon be meetings with the different cattle organizations and officials like Gov. Jared Polis and Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg following his recent comments at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Her fight at the capitol last year was made more difficult as she was also enduring chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation, finally wrapping up in July. Her second bout with breast cancer was hard on her, she said, but her thankfulness for good doctors and her God are deep.
Back on the ranch this summer, she’s enjoying her 13 grandchildren and awaiting the arrival of another. Ranging in age from under 2 months to 12 years, there is a group in the middle that is close in age that she said are fun to watch.
She recently returned from Deadwood, S.D., where she accepted the R-CALF Legislator of the Year award. She will soon begin scheduling events in her district as part of her re-election campaign.
“I wanted to announce early so people know I’m going to stay with them, I’m not going to leave them,” she said. “We’re going to keep working on some of these projects. We need some stability. It’s volatile in Denver — they have their agenda and keep trying to push it through. I keep trying to do the best I can to create common sense.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.