As a political tactic, it’s been almost foolproof.  You draw a line around entirely urban jurisdictions and then float a change in an agriculture practice that most voters will have never previously thought about. With all those urban voters, your spin carries the day.

A group called “Pro-Animal Future” is counting on this tactic to ban slaughterhouse and fur sales in the City and  County of Denver.  Unlike some past ballot measures by animal activists that changed animal housing practices for all impacted producers, the Denver Slaughterhouse ban would apply to just one — the employee-owned Superior Farms.

Suppose the ballot measure forces the closure of Superior Farms, with as much as 20 percent of the nation’s lamb market. In that case, the Regional Economic Institute  at Colorado State University (CSU) figures $861 million in current economic activity and 2,787 jobs will be lost.

Superior Farms is one of only a few lamb processors in the United States. If forced to shutdown, Superior’s loss would impact the U.S. lamb supply chain, according o the CSU study..  The reduced volume will likely be made up of foreign imports.

Beyond Superior Farms, Colorado has 21 USDA-inspected sheep and lamb slaughter facilities with an annual capacity of 400,000, with Superior accounting for 300,000.

Superior Farms is located north of the intersection of Colorado’s two major Interstate highways, among other industrial uses. There is no zoning issue.

It is one of the nation’s largest lamb processors, which has done business since the 1950s. It ships lamb not only to most Colorado restaurants and grocery stores but to many out-of-state customers as well,

Nothing predicted that Superior Farms would become the target of a ballot measure seeking to shut down or at least relocate the 70-year-old employee company. A forced closure can not happen without fully compensating Superior’s owners; the ballot measure would cost Denver taxpayers upwards of $70 million, according to estimates.

The “Prohibition of Slaughterhouses” initiative made the November ballot by filings with the City and County of Denver Clerk & Recorder.  That office required 8,940 valid signatures to be submitted to qualify for the municipal election ballot.

If adopted by voters, the ballot measure will ban any business where livestock are killed to produce human food. Livestock under Colorado law includes beef, lamb, pork, and poultry.

The measure to kill the employee-owned Denver lamb business is sponsored by animal activists.  Pro-Animal Future, which wants to “end animal farming in Colorado” and advocates for “non-humans,” put up $100,000 in start-up contributions . It promises its economic analysis and “green” jobs for the unemployed employee-owners.

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