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Colorado rancher urges support for Prop. 204

Don’t be fooled. In my opinion and experience, big agribusiness does not represent the position of family ranchers and farmers.

As a fourth generation rancher, I urge you to support Proposition 204 — The Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act.
Three states have been presented with initiatives regulating large hog confinement operations. Colorado, Florida and now Arizona. You’ve heard a lot about Florida — not all true. Now let me tell you about Colorado. Of course, Colorado and Arizona have more in common. The big hog farms in Arizona and Colorado are owned by large, out-of-state corporate interests. In the last 10-15 years, the number of hog farmers in Arizona and Colorado have declined, while the number of hogs have grown exponentially.
I live near these sites and have first-hand experience on how small, rural communities are affected. Industrialized animal factories also use what I believe to be cruel animal husbandry practices, which most traditional family farmers and ranchers do not condone. Unlike traditional farms where animals have access to range and open air, factory farms confine pregnant sows in cages where they don’t even have room to turn around. That is where they spend virtually their entire lives.
A number of years ago, several large housed hog factories were planned and developed near my family’s ranch in northeastern Colorado. As I saw what was involved by the sheer number of hogs and volume of waste stored in open air lagoons, I became very concerned about the Ogallala Aquifer, which is the sole source of water for our community and other impacts to our way of life.
I helped build support for a grassroots citizens’ initiative in Colorado in 1998. We placed an initiative on the ballot that voters approved by 63 percent to regulate big hog factories. Amendment 14 set out protections for air standards and water regulations on the waste from large commercial hog operations in an attempt to keep these industrialized facilities from adversely affecting Colorado’s valuable water, air, and land.
This fight is being waged all over the country on many fronts, pitting small ranchers and farmers and their rural lifestyle against the industrial animal factories, many of which are owned by large, out-of-state corporations. They tend to divide the communities they locate in and tear the social fabric often beyond repair.
Don’t be fooled. In my opinion and experience, big agribusiness does not represent the position of family ranchers and farmers. That’s why I support the efforts of Arizonans for Humane Farms. I checked out the opposition Web site and have seen all the out-of-state interests opposing this initiative and then decided to respond as a rancher who has been in a confinement facility and ask Arizona voters to do what is right and vote yes on Proposition 204.
Sue Jarrett is a rancher in Colorado.

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