It was a weekend of reconnecting, celebrating livestock production, and uplifting those in need throughout Colorado and neighboring states as the agriculture industry celebrated “Meat In Day” on Saturday, March 20.
The events were held to counteract Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' proclamation of that day as "MeatOut Day" urging residents to abstain from eating meat for what he asserts would benefit human and planetary health. The proclamation was seen as an insult to the state’s livestock producers, which represent the second largest industry in the state.
More than 35 cities and counties signed proclamations to promote the importance of agriculture in the Centennial State; designating March 20th as “Cattlemen’s Day,” “Meat In Day,” or other similar designations.
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) expressesd gratitude for all those who hosted and participated in the various gatherings around the state. "The strength of the industry is rooted in your communities, and your voices were heard and your contributions are recognized statewide," the organization said in a release.
The support for agriculture transcended beyond rural areas as urban communities and consumers also participated.
“While we saw rural Colorado turn out in record numbers and with record donations collected, we were also encouraged by the strengthening of a bond between metropolitan and rural voices around this effort,” said Janie VanWinkle, CCA President. “We are appreciative of the support around the Meat In movement and look forward to continuing to strengthen this partnership across the state and nation into the future.”
With more than 75 events, plus countless restaurant and retailer specials, meat was on the menu and tables across the state. The CCA reports more than 25,000 people were offered complimentary barbecue meals, including more than 1,200 food insecure Denver residents.
More than a meal
However, a Meat In Day meant more than just enjoying a delicious meal with friends, family, and neighbors.
“Many events emphasized supporting and feeding the food insecure. Donations were collected at varying events to support their local communities and the broader beef industry,” said Terry Fankhauser, CCA Executive Vice President. “The tally is ongoing, but as of late, over $300,000, supporting need-based causes, has been collected in the name of Meat In day.”
The ralllies were held against the backdrop of a ballot initiative proposed for next year that critics say would drastically harm animal agriculture and consumer access to affordable food in the state.
Opponents say Initiative 16 would limit beneficial animal husbandry practices and stipulate unrealistic harvest requirements for livestock. Now more than ever, livestock producers and consumers need to come together and support Colorado from pasture to plate, industry leaders say.
"The unity that was showcased with the Meat In movement across the entire state is encouraging for bridging between agriculture and urban audiences," the CCA said in its release. "Let this momentum around the Meat In movement serve as an example for how Coloradans can work together for a viable, beneficial future."