A referendum that would eliminate animal agriculture in Colorado has passed the initial challenges and has been approved for the collection of citizen signatures.

Colorado State Ballot Initiative titled “Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation” would amend the State criminal animal cruelty statute to:

  1. define “’Natural Lifespan’ for the following species . . . : a cow lives to 20 years, a chicken lives to 8 years, a turkey lives to 10 years, a duck lives to 6 years, a pig lives to 15 years, a sheep lives to 15 years, a rabbit lives to 6 years” and prohibit slaughter of those animals unless the animal has lived one quarter of their natural lifespan, and
  2. amend prohibitions of sexual acts with an animal to include: “any intrusion or penetration, however slight, with an object or part of a person’s body into an animal’s anus or genitals.”

The problems with the first set of amendments as written drafted to eliminate animal agriculture in its entirety, would fail to does so for the following reasons:

A “cow” is a female bovine that has had more than one calf.  A “heifer” is a female bovine older than a “calf.”  When she has her first calf, she is called a “first calf heifer.”

A calf; heifer; first calf heifer; bull; bob calf; veal calf; steer; slaughter heifer, bull, steer, cow are all defined in various state and federal laws which separates them from “cows” and would therefore be exempt from this law, if passed.

There are similar exemptions for broilers and lambs.

The lifespan for “pigs,” which are neonatal swine, is plainly wrong, so there should be no impact on swine slaughter if properly interpreted and enforced.

Issues with the amendments to prohibitions of sexual acts with an animal (including companion animals) include the following, some of which others have already identified:

  1. artificial insemination;
  2. pregnancy diagnosis by intra anal examination;
  3. castration; and
  4. spay.

While there is an exception for procedures that facilitate animal health that may provide exception for spay/neuter of dogs and cats, such exceptions may be more difficult to obtain for livestock (including horses).

In addition to these issues, if this referendum is actually passed, there appears to be numerous commerce clause, supremacy clause, due process, and takings clause arguments that could be claimed based on federal and state law.

Hopefully, media campaigns will be mounted by farmers, ranchers and trade associations that will prevail.

If not, legal action is warranted.