Defending Agriculture – Canon City Daily Record

Recently returning from a national legislative conference in Washington, DC, Commissioner Dwayne McFall and I appreciated the opportunity to be the voice of rural Colorado and to continue the fight for the Fremont County way of life.

The event was sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo), whose mission is to strengthen America’s counties.

Don’t get me wrong, with the state of national politics today, this was not an easy conference for those of us in rural and conservative areas.

But it was important. We heard from the President and several members of his cabinet, the Speaker of the House and many representatives of federal agencies.

Although there was no opportunity to interact directly with these major players, we had ample opportunity to discuss our issues and advocate for our culture at meetings of the Steering Committee, Caucus of rural action, workshops and courses.

We spent our last day with our Senators from Colorado, allowing us to have up-close and personal discussions on important issues, including US waters and payment in lieu of taxes.

Commissioner McFall sits on the public lands steering committee, while I sit on the agriculture and rural affairs steering committee. Through these panels, NACo allows members to propose resolutions to be part of our national platform.

I introduced a resolution through AGRA to urge the U.S. Congress to pass legislation in support of ranching, ranching, and other agricultural industries while recognizing agriculture as one of the foundations of the American economy. The resolution was originally crafted by El Paso County Commissioner Carrie Geitner, who is not an AGRA member. I was happy to carry the banner and sponsor the act.

During my presentation, I told the committee that our rural and agricultural way of life is under attack in Colorado. We are already battling severe drought and extreme wildfires, and now have to deal with the reintroduction of wolves into our agricultural areas. The recently proposed PAUSE law would have criminalized breeding, as well as the slaughter of any animal before 25% of its “natural” life has elapsed.

And I described a year ago the governor’s “Meat Out” day, which we vehemently opposed as the Board of County Commissioners.

I told the committee that Colorado has become a testing ground for these terrible ideas, and if other members haven’t seen them in their communities yet, they will. Laws like these proposals take away our common identity and destroy the lives of the 19.7 million people and their families who depend on agriculture for their income. That’s a whopping 10 percent of total employment in the United States.

Decisions on the management of wildlife and domestic animals do not belong to our legislature. Those decisions should be up to the professionals who live this life every day, not those on Capitol Hill or the White House who don’t understand our way of life.

I ended my presentation by telling the committee that a bold statement from NACo urging support for our incredibly important livestock, ranching and agricultural industries can help stem this tide.

I was extremely pleased that the AGRA Committee approved the resolution by unanimous vote. The committee chair called the resolution one of the most significant resolutions he has seen in his many years with NACo.

The resolution was then forwarded to the full NACo Board of Directors, where it was passed and became a draft resolution. It will be repeated at the 2022 NACo Annual Conference to eventually become a permanent part of NACo policy.

This annual conference will be much closer – it will be held in Adams County, Colorado in July. Your three commissioners plan to attend so we can continue to defend not just Fremont County, but all of rural Colorado.

Debbie Bell is Fremont County District 2 Commissioner and is currently Chair of the Board of Directors.

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