Livestock controversies and water issues are top agricultural stories of 2021 – Sterling Journal-Advocate

Ticketed events, including the PRCA Rodeo, returned to the Logan County Fair this year after having to be canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,

Colorado’s agriculture industry has seen COVID-19 in the rearview mirror in 2021 and has been focused on securing a future for farmers and ranchers. As if low commodity prices and rising input costs weren’t enough, people in agriculture – especially in the livestock sector – found themselves facing even more challenges.

Colorado’s livestock industry held a statewide celebration in March as thousands of Coloradans feasted on beef at about 100 events across the state.

The events took place in protest of Gov. Jared Polis’ proclamation recognizing the national observance of MeatOut on March 21. MeatOut is a nationwide movement to reduce or eliminate animal protein from Americans’ diets.

Sterling’s Meat-In event was conceived by Jason Santomaso, hosted by Sterling Livestock Commission Co. and the Santomaso family, and drew around 2,400 people to dine on all-beef burgers and bratwursts. They also bid on a wide range of items to raise money for the Santas of Sterling Miracle Letter program. The event raised approximately $130,000, part of which the Santas returned to help a family in need.

At the time, Governor Polis was already trying to mend the fences after the backlash of his MeatOut proclamation. On March 12, the Colorado Livestock Association was notified that Polis had signed a proclamation naming March 22 as Colorado Livestock Proud Day.

The governor had another opportunity to support the ranching industry in Colorado and didn’t hesitate to take it. At the end of March, as if to establish its credibility with livestock farmers, Polis issued a strong statement opposing the proposed initiative to protect animals from unnecessary suffering and exploitation, dubbed PAUSE, saying it would destroy the animal industry. the state’s ranching and would devastate Colorado’s economy. .

Livestock producers claimed that if passed, the PAUSE would criminalize many widely accepted husbandry practices necessary for successful livestock production. The issue, officially known as Initiative 16, was reviewed by the state’s Title Board, but that decision was appealed by a coalition of farm organizations. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously overturned the initiative, saying it failed to meet legal requirements.

Landowners suffered another setback at the hands of the Colorado General Assembly when Colorado’s conservation easement bill failed to gain needed support.

Senate Bill 21-033, sponsored by Sterling Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, would have created a new state income tax credit for certain taxpayers who have been denied income tax credits from the state for conservation easements donated between 2000 and 2013 had the IRS allowed a federal income tax deduction. for the same donation.

The bill would have helped landowners who donated development rights to their properties by setting aside $149 million from the state treasury to pay for conservation easement tax credits denied by the Colorado Department of Revenue over ten years ago.

Sonnenberg and his allies had navigated the bill, seen by many as the last chance to correct a gross injustice, through six committee hearings and a vote in the Senate before it made it to the House Appropriations Committee for be returned to the House for the final vote. On the last day of the legislative session, however, Democrats on the committee killed the bill with a 7-4 party-line vote.

Here in Logan County, August 2021 was a time to celebrate the return of the Logan County Fair in all its glory, after being virtually canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fair officials had decided in 2020 that, for public safety, only youth-oriented events would be held and audience sizes would be limited. The pandemic had also forced a similar reduction in the Colorado State Fair in 2020 and the cancellation of the National Western Stock Show, the Colorado Farm Show and the Colorado Conference on Agriculture in January 2021, as well as many other agriculture-related events across the state. .

By late spring, however, the pandemic seemed to be on the wane, vaccines were available, and events were back on the schedule. The Fair Board chose the theme “On With the Show!” and by the time the fair opened at the end of July, it was hard to tell that there had been any change.

Pictured is Grand Champion Market Beef sold by Tyla Thomas to Circle L Irrigation during the 2021 Bud VanBerg Memorial 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Sale. This year’s sale broke the 2020 record, with proceeds of $724,350.

Adding to the optimism, a sale of junior cattle broke all records. Total revenue from the 4-H/FFA sale was $724,350, breaking the record set in 2020 of more than $550,000.

Part of the upsurge has been attributed to the number of youngsters showing this year. Becky Santomaso of Sterling Livestock Production Co. said there were 333 lots of animals in 2021, 51 more than in 2020. A total of 178 exhibitors sold their animals at the sale.

The average salary per batch has also increased, Santomaso said. While the average winning bid on beef was down slightly, all other categories were up.

Logan County Commissioners made a major staffing change for the annual county fair. In early December, board chairman Byron Pelton said the new Raymer’s Guy McEndaffer had been named fair director, ending Todd Thomas’ ten-year tenure in the position. Pelton said the commissioners had decided to establish a job description for the fair manager, which had never been done before. They wanted to open the job to the public and so released Todd Thomas from the job with an invitation to reapply. Pelton said Thomas, having already served 10 years as manager, decided not to apply for the job.

McEndaffer was named based largely on his extensive experience with one of the nation’s largest stock shows. He serves on the board of directors of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo Association as a liaison for the Vice President of Rodeo, Breeding and Horse Operations. He is also co-chair of the association’s education committee and sits on the breeding executive committee and the junior show committee, among other roles.

Pelton said he understood there was “a little heartburn” about McEndaffer living and farming in Weld County, but because he’s not a voting member of the Fair Board , the commissioners saw this as a non-issue. Additionally, McEndaffer has a long history with the Logan County Fair, including serving as a junior livestock sales volunteer, livestock ethics consultant and lamb superintendent. He was a long-time 4-H leader for the Willard Wildcats 4-H Club and previously served on the board of the Colorado FFA Foundation.

Water continued to be a point of contention in 2021 with two steps forward and one step back. Advances included the formation of a partnership between the Parker Water and Sanitation District and the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District to develop a new water right in the Lower South Platte. But a lawsuit against the LSPWCD, if successful, would likely end that partnership.

In September, LSPWCD and PW&SD issued a joint press release announcing the formation of the Platte Valley Water Partnership, a joint water supply project to utilize a new water right the two entities own along the South Platte River. near Sterling.

The project will use new and existing infrastructure to store and transport water for agricultural use in northeast Colorado and for municipal use along the Front Range. The partnership implies the progressive development of the right to water. The first phases would involve a pipeline from Prewitt Reservoir in Logan and Washington counties to Parker Reservoir, which supplies the city of Parker. Later developments would see a 4,000 acre-feet reservoir near Iliff on land owned by Parker, and a 72,000 acre-feet reservoir near Fremont Butte north of Akron. A pipeline, pump stations and a processing facility will also be constructed as part of the project.

Two months later, however, a group of Colorado ratepayers filed a class action lawsuit in Logan County’s 13th Judicial District Court seeking to overturn a factory royalty increase by the Conservation District of Lower South Platte water. The increase was primarily to help pay the district’s share of the cost of developing a new water right and building infrastructure for the Platte Valley Water Partnership project.

The Public Trust Institute, a Colorado-based public interest law firm, and the National Taxpayers Union Foundation of Washington, D.C., filed the lawsuit on behalf of an ad hoc group of taxpayers in Logan Counties. , Morgan, Sedgwick and Washington. Jim Aranci of Crook, Charles Miller, Jack Darnell and William Lauck of Morgan County and Curtis Werner of Merino are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. In addition to the water district, the defendants include the county treasurers of the four counties, who collected taxes and remitted funds to the district.

The lawsuit was filed, the plaintiffs said, because although LSPWCD voters relieved the district of the requirements of the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, the district still promised to go public to a vote to raise taxes. They argue that increasing the district mill tax from 0.5 million to 1 million violates this promise.

The district maintains that it was allowed to take up to 1 mill when it was established in the 1960s, but never did because it did not need to. Now that it is necessary, the district says, the 1964 statute forming the district supersedes TABOR and levies the full mill without a vote is legal.

The trial on the matter is scheduled for 2023.

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