Showing up: Fighting for rural Colorado and agriculture |

Showing up: Fighting for rural Colorado and agriculture

Rural Colorado shows up, albeit perhaps in less visible ways than some do. It’s been said some of the finest people and places just can’t be seen from the paved road.

In rural Colorado, one would be hard pressed to find demonstrations or signs being waved by the angry amid chanting, but you can find the county commissioners riding on an Independence Day float with red, white, and blue banners and signs their kids and grandchildren helped make. You can find those same folks sitting in meetings trying to figure out how to keep one-size-fits-all legislation and mandates from Denver from hurting their neighbors and crippling their industries and small businesses. Signs are more likely to be waved at ballgames, proclaiming love of the hometown heroes and chants are more likely to be answered by fans also cheering young student athletes one free throw or basket at a time.

You’re unlikely to find “encampments” in small towns and, while no doubt rural areas certainly battle hunger, you will find packages of donated beef in church freezers, ready to be placed in the hands of someone who needs it. Checks, cups of hot coffee, and prayers are passed quietly from one person to another, without the fanfare of expecting something in return. Casseroles and banana bread and homegrown tomatoes appear on the doorsteps of those who are trembling in the wake of losses. It is grace in action.

In many rural homes, the big city TV newscast has fallen silent, save for the weather report. Instead, people are supporting local papers and the small businesses who advertise there, tuning into farm television and radio, and turning to proven news sources who treat their industries, values, and livelihoods with respect.

Rather than kneeling athletes, sporting events may be a small town rodeo or Friday night football game where everyone stands, removes cover, bows their head, and sings along with the anthem.

Combines roll through fields, cattle producers check cows and feed stockpiles with an eye on the horizon, hoping for rain. The people who do hard work are the ones who are producing food and generating the income to keep the lights on at the schools and churches and grain elevators and cafés.

This week, a woman Governor Polis appointed to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine who identifies herself as a vegan activist (see posted on her personal social media account that, “4-H clubs teach children that animal lives don’t matter.”

This appointee, Ellen Kessler, will be asked to guide and enforce professional standards for veterinary practitioners. She’ll also be tasked with making, amending, and adopting reasonable rules that govern the conduct of veterinarians, including veterinarians who serve the state’s many large animal and food animal clients. The members of the state board are given the responsibility of interpreting the Veterinary practice law onto many specific cases in a fair and equitable manner that is in keeping with the intention of the law.

Such interpretation is very much at the mercy of the individual board member’s ability or inability to remove their own personal bias or agenda from the equation. The long-established and science-based practices of a medical profession should not be placed on the whim of one individual with a deeply engrained political belief. Veterinarians have dedicated decades of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish their professional career and this gives one individual with a personal agenda the power to dismantle their career and reputation permanently.

We believe in 4-H, livestock, agriculture, and the talented veterinary practitioners that count cattle and other food animals among their clientele.

To show our support, we have made available a letter that will be sent to Gov. Polis, the Office of the State Auditor, and members of the Senate and House committees on agriculture requesting that Kessler’s appointment to such a post be retracted prior to her confirmation hearing during the upcoming legislative session. If you would like to add your name to the letter, please visit and add your name, email, and zip code by August 14. If you would like to add stories of your own experiences, the letter can be added to and sent to the listed addresses. Please post a screenshot of the letter and use the hashtag #showingup and tag @jaredpolis and @thefencepost.

Call it showing up or standing in the gap or being the tip of the spear or supporting salt of the earth communities that reflect the good in people if you will, but standing up for rural Colorado at the ballot box is giving a voice to the outnumbered voters in the “other Colorado”.

Be it forced wolf reintroduction, thinly veiled anti-agriculture agendas stemming from the Governor’s office, or just a disregard for and comfortable detachment from the people who kick off dirty boots at day’s end, now is the time to stand up for rural Colorado and the state’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry. Allowing the voices of those feeding the state to be drowned out by the noisy minority ought not be so, even if you can’t always see them from the paved road. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at or (970) 768-0024.