GUEST opinion

Aug 28, 2009
by WLJ
GUEST opinionThe effects of the beef industry in Colorado

The beef industry is very important to not only the Colorado’s economy; but throughout the nation. Beef producers across the state are continually faced with increased operating costs and the threat of losing tax exemptions.

When the costs of operation goes up, ranchers need to sell their beef at higher prices in order to at least break even. As a result, the cost of beef at the grocery store goes up causing the consumer to be unhappy. So if you, as a consumer; don’t think that the state’s economy doesn’t affect the price of your dinner, you are very wrong.

Are you aware that there are 2.75 million head of cattle in Colorado, giving the state a ranking of 10th in overall cattle numbers nationwide? Nearly one-third of Colorado’s counties are classified as either economically dependent on the cattle industry, or having the cattle industry serve an important role in their economies. The result of this is that cash receipts from the sale of cattle and calves are at $2.83 billion. This represents the largest segment, by far, in Colorado’s agriculture industry, which is the 2nd largest industry statewide.

Agriculture not only represents a large portion of income in the state and nationwide, it’s also vital to providing jobs. One out of every five jobs in Colorado is created by agriculture. Looking at the bigger picture, cattle production and related business activity generate more than 1.5 million jobs in the U.S. Imagine what would happen to the entire U.S. economy if we started to import all of our agriculture. Not only would we lose a very large portion of our income, but we would be putting millions of people out of work. This is why it is so important to continue to assist farmers and ranchers wherever we can. Here are some of the issues facing agriculture and the beef industry in Colorado.

Fees—The agriculture industry already “cash” funds the vast majority of direct and in-direct services that are received from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Furthermore, agriculture producers have witnessed increased cuts, greater than other agencies, to the Department of Agriculture via legislative action last session and the requested 10 percent across-the-board cuts to agencies by the administration. An example of agriculture’s fiscal responsibility is the Brand Board. The board is completely cash funded, and has been since its inception.

Their budget is set for a five-year period and they operate within its parameters—no exceptions. The beef industry operates under very low margins and is fiercely competitive. We are also commodity-market based.

If input costs are higher in Colorado than Kansas, Colorado producers don’t get paid more for their cattle. They get paid the same. In short, business and money goes to where it is treated the best. Colorado is already an expensive state in which to conduct business. Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is very concerned that if the state’s fiscal situation worsens for beef producers, they will continue to find other states where they can move their businesses. CCA already has witnessed too many members who have had to sell their land and move to other states in order to make a living.

The tax exemptions that Colorado agriculture producers enjoy are almost unilaterally present in all other states. These critical exemptions are in place due to being inputs into a critical final product—food. A closer look at these exemptions amplifies the impact removing them would have on Colorado agriculture producers, and ultimately, the state’s consumers.

In financial situations like this, agriculture’s fiscal conservatism works against it. There isn’t anything left to cut; yet the industry and its representative agencies are asked to do so anyway. As unpalatable as that is, the industry continues to make an effort, hoping that Colorado will take on the hard decisions of finding an answer to the problems that continue to plague the state.

The bottom line is that agriculture is vital to the economy of Colorado. CCA represents the beef industry in Colorado, and asks for your support in keeping agriculture affordable for the producers and consumers.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is the state’s only nonprofit trade organization exclusively representing Colorado’s cattle producers. Founded in 1867, CCA is the nation’s oldest state cattlemen’s association. For more information on CCA, please visit

Colorado CattlemenĀ“s Association