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#ShowingUp: Act now in defense of rural Colorado and the agriculture industry so vital to the state

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has appointed Ellen Kessler to the public at large position on the State Board of Veterinary Medicine. Kessler is an outspoken vegan and activist with political convictions that fly in the face of production agriculture and all it entails. To show our support of 4-H, livestock, agriculture, and veterinary practitioners, we are requesting that Ellen Kessler’s appointment to such a post be retracted prior to her confirmation hearing during the upcoming legislative session.

The letter below will be sent to the state office of the auditor, Gov. Polis, and all members of House and Senate agriculture committees on August 14.

You may utilize it as a guide to send yourself with the inclusion of your own comments or add your name by doing any of the following:

  • Sign the petition: https://www.change.org/ShowingUpFP
  • Comment below with your name, email and zip code before August 12, 2020
  • If you would like to add stories of your own experiences either comment below or share your public posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #showingup and tag @jaredpolis and @thefencepost
  • Post a screenshot of the letter (download .pdf here) and use the hashtag #showingup and tag @jaredpolis and @thefencepost.

Additional letters addressing other issues important to agriculture and rural Colorado will be added soon, helping you give voice to the concerns of our industry and rural Colorado.

Now is the time to show up for Colorado agriculture.


UPDATE 08/11/2020: Letter from Jerry Sonnenberg, Colorado Senate District 1

Elections are fast approaching, and this governor is making political appointments that appear to be furthering his “War on Rural Colorado.”

Polis’ latest appointment, to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, is a self-proclaimed “vegan activist” whose response to the outcry against this absurd move was to attack one of Colorado’s premier youth organizations on social media. Ellen Kessler claimed that 4-H clubs – known as one of the first kids’ clubs in America, with a focus on leadership, citizenship, and life skills – “teach children that animal lives don’t matter.”

More than 100,000 currently active Colorado 4-H members and the nearly 10,000 adult and youth volunteer leaders would, I think, disagree with her preposterous charge. 4-H members contribute to their communities and gain practical experience in subject areas that include workforce preparation and career exploration, leadership and volunteerism, character and ethics, food and nutrition, agriculture and natural resources, conservation, consumer decision-making, robotics, rocketry, animal sciences, and public speaking – just to name a few.

This governor and his staff should be embarrassed about this political appointment, especially because it should not be political at all. As a member of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, Kessler would work closely with the Colorado Department of Agriculture on matters pertaining to Colorado’s livestock industry. How can a professed vegan activist make unbiased decisions about veterinary matters [BA1] in an industry she wants to dismantle?

While I hope that when faced with this nomination the Senate Democrats will take a hard look at the absurdity of this appointment and vote it down, that hasn’t happened in the past. As recently as June, another appointee from this governor to the State Fair Board garnered opposition from both sides of the aisle as an inappropriate selection. The appointment was doomed to fail with bipartisan opposition – until Senate leadership refused to bring the confirmation to a vote. Through political sidesteps and technical maneuvers, that appointee continues to serve.

But wait, there’s more: Jeff Rice and the Sterling Journal-Advocate printed a two-part story revealing that out of 25 boards and 220 appointments, only 12 appointees hailed from east of I-25. That’s right, roughly 5% of appointments are from the eastern third of the state. What a mess Polis has made with his diversification of the boards; perhaps he ought to include some of the folks affected by these appointments, from not only the eastern plains but all of the state’s rural areas.

Maybe Governor Polis had his predecessor John Hickenlooper share the former governor’s quoted beliefs about us “backward thinking” people in rural Colorado. Rest assured, we “backwards thinking” folks will continue to provide the food, fiber, and energy this state and the rest of the world depend on. Rural Colorado is full of intelligent, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people who would make great appointments to oversee professions like the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

So how do we show our opposition to Kessler’s appointment? Call Governor Polis’ office at 303-866-2471. Be polite and briefly share why you think any advocate might have a conflict of interest when appointed to a board charged with oversight of the very subject against which they are vocally opposed.

Thank you,

Jerry Sonnenberg
Colorado Senate District 1



Dianne E. Ray, CPA, MPA

State Service Building

1525 Sherman Street, 7th Floor

Denver, Colorado 80203

August 6, 2020

Dear Ms. Ray,

This week, Ellen Kessler, who was recently appointed to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine posted on her personal social media account that, “4-H clubs teach children that animal lives don’t matter.” Kessler is an outspoken vegan and advocate for others to do the same. 

As a member of the Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine, this appointee 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 person with a personal agenda the power to dismantle their career and reputation permanently.

Due to Kessler’s previous statements that Coloradoans ought to become vegans, I do not believe she will be able to reasonably carry out the great responsibility of overseeing the veterinarians so vital to the agriculture industry. This conflict of interest could be disastrous, even driving desperately needed rural practitioners out of the state. With the state already experiencing a shortage of such practitioners, this would be a blow to the agriculture industry and the people who depend upon it.

I respectfully request that this grave conflict of interest be given consideration prior to Kessler’s confirmation hearing during the upcoming legislative sessions. Supporting Colorado’s agriculture industry has never been more important.

Yours in agriculture,

Rachel Gabel

cc: Gov. Jared Polis, Press Secretary Conor Cahill, Sen. Kerry Donovan, Sen Jessie Danielson, Sen. Don Coram, Sen. Robert Rodriguez, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Dylan Roberts, Rep. Donald Valdez, Rep. Jeni James Arndt, Rep. Bri Buentello, Rep. Marc Catlin, Rep. Richard Holtorf, Rep. Rod Pelton, Rep. Brianna Titone, Rep. Perry Will, Rep. Steven Woodrow, Rep. Mary Young.


TAKE ACTION:

This letter will be sent to the state office of the auditor, Gov. Polis, and all members of House and Senate agriculture committees on August 14. You may utilize it as a guide to send yourself with the inclusion of your own comments or add your name by doing any of the following:

  1. Sign the petition: https://www.change.org/ShowingUpFP
  2. Comment below with your name, email and zip code before August 12, 2020
  3. If you would like to add stories of your own experiences either comment below or share your public posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #showingup and tag @jaredpolis and @thefencepost
  4. Post a screenshot of the letter (download .pdf here) and use the hashtag #showingup and tag @jaredpolis and @thefencepost.

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