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1999 was a good year for Colorado’s industrial hog facilities

DENVER – November 1998 had every major hog operation in Colorado lamenting the passage of Amendment 14 – a ballot initiative that placed water and air quality regulations on the largest of Colorado’s hog facilities. The cry went up that the end was near and hog operations would be going out of business left and right.

Well, it’s now 2000. And what does the Colorado hog industry look like today? The number of sows in this state are up 26 percent from 1998. So much for doom and gloom. And as for hog operations going out of business, Colorado did lose 50 percent of its hog facilities in 1998. But let’s qualify that number. Only the smallest hog facilities (those with less than 1,000 head and unregulated by Amendment 14) went out of business. Those with more than 1,000 head (where 93 percent of the state’s hogs are raised) either stayed the same or expanded their operations.

“These numbers prove what we said in 1998 – that regulation does not mean obliteration,” said Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Dave Carter. Farmers Union was one of the primary supporters of Amendment 14. “If hog facilities were fearful of the future they wouldn’t be expanding their operations at one of the fastest rates in the country.”

Farmers Union has been advocating a policy of “wait and see” when it comes to Amendment 14. The organization is actively working with hog facilities and those who live next to them to implement the final stages of the ballot initiative. “Currently, hog facilities are testing experimental covers to see if they result in a reduction of odors emanating from the waste lagoons,” Carter said. “For the most part, facilities may be grumpy about complying with Amendment 14, but we don’t anticipate any real threats to the economy because of these facilities failing.”

Farmers Union is a general agricultural organization representing 23,000 independent farmers and ranchers in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.