July 11, 2023

RMBA Statement: Opposition of Denver Ballot Initiative

On behalf of more than 120 members of the Rocky Mountain Bison Association (RMBA), the RMBA Board of Directors adamantly oppose the City and County of Denver ballot initiative titled “Prohibition of Slaughterhouses.”

This ballot initiative will ask: “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?”

This proposal is an all-out ban of processing facilities, making it illegal to operate current facilities, disallowing any construction or maintenance, and prohibiting the building of new facilities.

This initiative goes against the city and the state’s longstanding agricultural economy and heritage and would have a large financial impact. It would not only harm companies and employees in Denver, but negatively impact residents within and around the state. Processing facilities in Denver serve a wide number of ranchers in and outside of Colorado. Agriculture in Colorado contributes $47 billion annually to our economy and employs more than 195,000 people (according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, pg. 3).

Since 1903, the City of Denver has been home to the premier livestock event, the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), for 16 days in January. This historic event draws in over 700,000 visitors, hosts ten major livestock associations, and has an economic impact of over $120 million each January.

The petitioners for the ballot initiative cite a desire to “move society to a plant-based food system” as their motive. If passed, this would negatively impact more people than it would serve. To even consider this ballot initiative is to send a strong message that agriculture and livestock are not welcome in Denver, and that niche mindsets or the “loudest voice” takes priority. RMBA urges you not to start down a path that jeopardizes the wellbeing of not only the rural community, but the economic health of Colorado, and therefore its citizens.

This initiative is short sighted and wrong for the city, the county, and the state.


John Graves, RMBA President

On behalf of the Rocky Mountain Bison Association (RMBA) Board