Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CO Lawmaker Educates Colleagues About Ag

Colorado lawmakers mount up to see effects of laws
By STEVEN K. PAULSON – 1 day ago

GRANADA, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado lawmaker says he got tired of his colleagues passing bills that would hurt his rural constituents, like the one requiring ranchers to take care of wild cats or another requiring butchering animals to be kept in bigger pens.

So last weekend state Rep. Wes McKinley invited fellow lawmakers to see part of the real West: the southeastern plains. A half dozen took him up on the offer, riding the range and helping with a cattle drive.

"I told them if they're going to vote on western issues, they need to understand western issues," said McKinley, a rancher and former outfitter from Walsh, an agricultural town of 4,000 about 220 miles southeast of Denver.

McKinley, a Democrat, said many laws passed in Denver have unintended consequences on the range.

"They wanted to pass a law saying you couldn't keep a veal calf in a pen so small he couldn't lay down and turn around," he told farmers and ranchers at a campfire meeting after the trail ride.

"I asked them 'What's a veal calf?' and nobody knew. They said 'Don't worry about it because there was no veal industry in Colorado.' I said this could be my favorite bill, because we passed a law on a subject they knew nothing about for something we can't define," McKinley recalled.

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This is becoming such an issue for agriculture. The people that are voting on these issues have no knowledge of the subject, nor can they grasp the consequences of their actions. But thanks to Rep. Wes McKinley from Colorado, a few of them know a little more about food and fiber production in this country. Those of us in ag can’t sit around waiting for someone to do things like this for us. We have to take the time and make the effort to educate politicians and consumers alike about this country’s most important industry.

1 comment:

Caleb said...

With family who ranches north of this area by about 2 hours, I understand these issues first hand. Most of the ranchers and farmers out there feel like they don't even exist to the lawmakers in Colorado, even though they provide one of the largest economic impacts in the state economy. If you're an urban resident reading this article, please take this to heart. Before allowing our lawmakers to make decisions about rural land (and especially water in Eastern Colorado), do some research about your voting decision. Take a ride east and contact a farmer or rancher, they'll give give you an honest answer from the heart. Trail rides are fun and bring back our western heritage, but at the end of the day our heritage is under attack by a misinformed public.