PUEBLO — "How could you, honestly".
This is how Ernie Meyer, owner at Bay's Meat Market in Pueblo described his reaction when the Governor proclaimed March 20 as MeatOut day, encouraging people statewide to go plant-based for the day.
Agriculture is Colorado's second biggest economic sector, and Meyer says the importance of local meat producers was reflected during the pandemic as his business got busier.
“We’ve just come out of a pandemic, proving that we need to have a sustainable food source here locally ... Cause there were times when it was tough to get and get shipped into our area to meet the demand when we were in a crisis situation."
Bay's only serves Colorado raised meat to customers. Many people in the cattle and meat farming industry in southern Colorado, took offense to the Governor's decision.
“How could you... The damage that it could do to your state, your constituents' economy, in asking people not to do that?” said Meyer.
Bay's Meat Market is one of many places giving out meat on March 20 in spite of the new holiday. The Pikes Peak Cattleman and Cattle Women are also hosting a hamburger fry at Thomas A. Edison Elementary School to "support farmers and ranchers in the region" said Maggie Hanna with Hanna Ranches. The fry will also help support the Beef Stick Program, part of the Colorado Beef Council's efforts to get quality meat out to children in underserved communities.
"Reaching out to farmers and ranchers who do have a product to deliver is a good first step" said Hanna, when giving tips on how you can support your local producers. Sam Frost with Frost Livestock, Hanna's cousin, says they recently implemented an online pickup system to make themselves more accessible for the public.
“The key to this business.. you have to adapt and that’s what I would say to a fellow producers. If you’re on the edge or you don’t like technology, we have to survive and maybe this is a way to do it," said Frost.
The CBC will be campaigning across digital platforms, asking they people choose to eat locally sourced meat at restaurants or at home as National Agriculture Month continues.