The outlines of a secretive plan to outlaw “the use of slaughterhouses” and put any employees who are displaced on some sort of welfare have begun to emerge in the Mile High City.

It won’t all come to fruition until the 2024 municipal election when it will take the form of a ballot initiative. The plan is to use paid signature gathers to ensure it makes the ballot.

According to Denver’s Office of the Clerk and Recorder, the following title is accepted:

“Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance prohibiting slaughterhouses, and in connection, beginning January 1, 2026, prohibiting the construction, maintenance, or use of slaughterhouses within the City, and requiring the City to prioritize residents whose employment is affected by the ordinance in workforce training or employment assistance programs.”

Signature-gathering is the next step for the ballot initiative, which is aimed at the April 2024 municipal election.

If it gets the signatures to make the ballot, the initiative has the potential to be highly destructive. It has already caught the attention of Superior Farms, the large lamb processor with a Denver plant employing 170 people. It supplies lamb to every grocery store and restaurant in Colorado and beyond. Many from the employee-owned company are Denver residents.

While a lamb slaughter might fall under such an initiative, how might products from slaughterhouses outside of Denver be affected? The prohibition on the “use of slaughterhouses” might give voters pause. Any facility that processes meat, defined as “livestock” under Colorado law including beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, is covered by the initiative.

Colorado livestock interests are already trying to determine how much damage Denver voters could do to the state’s $14 billion industry. As recently as 2021, the Colorado livestock industry went to the state Supreme Court to stop a harmful initiative to prevent the use of artificial insemination and pregnancy diagnosis for farm animals.

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