Senator Larry Crowder explains his position on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), expresses his support for Amendment A, and discusses Proposition 109 and 110.

October 2 -- State Senator Larry Crowder spoke on Tuesday to members of the Colorado Livestock Association (CLA) about ballot items in the upcoming November elections. The senator also touched on COOL (Country of Origin Labeling), which is a somewhat controversial issue among Colorado ranchers. Crowder hadn't intended on speaking at the event but because things were running slightly ahead of schedule, he decided to get a word in the interim between lunch and the next CLA presentation.

"We are a pretty independent type of organization, cattlemen," said Crowder. "When you start talking about government intrusion on country of origin labeling, I tend to believe that it would impact the cattle market." Crowder is wary that something like COOL would split domestic markets in two: local livestock or "homegrown" markets, and then foreign markets.

"Right now what you have is a specialty group, cattle, that brings a premium. But the American housewife will go to the price as long as it's USDA approved," Crowder said. Essentially, the price of a product is the primary driver of consumers to that product. A country of origin label wouldn't change that in the grand scheme of things.

"We have to learn that marketability is a key factor of what we do as livestock people," said Crowder.

Crowder emphasized that he thought country of origin labeling wouldn't benefit domestic livestock markets. However, he was keen that Coloradans should capitalize on foreign representation of Colorado beef products. "I was talking to a guy that had actually visited China," Crowder said. He recalled that the man's son worked for a government organization in China that marketed United States beef. That organization represented Montana, Wyoming and Iowa, but not Colorado beef.

Crowder said he met with Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown to see how Colorado beef could be represented in China at par with other states' representation. "Our exports are extremely important to us and they will become more and more important as the population of the world increases," said Crowder. "I think that if we are going to market Colorado beef in China, it should be on at least an even keel with Montana, Wyoming and Iowa."

Crowder turned his attention to the state ballot, particularly Amendment A. "Amendment A, basically, is the one that takes slavery out of the state constitution." There was another amendment in 2016 that had the same exact effect of striking slavery and indentured servitude from the Colorado Constitution completely. However, as Crowder alluded to, the language in the bill confused many Coloradans and it was ultimately voted down.

"Here's the way I look at it," said Crowder. "In 1860, when President Lincoln was elected, there was not a Republican in the United States who owned a slave." Crowder looks at Amendment A as a way to further the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, who led the Union against the Confederacy in opposition to the expansion of slavery in the American territories. Crowder noted that the amendment was mostly a symbolic gesture because slavery and indentured servitude are still allowed under strict circumstances in the United States Constitution.

"I look at [Amendment A] simply as advancing the legacy of Lincoln and I will be voting for Amendment A," said Crowder.

Crowder said that he will be for Proposition 109. The proposition would require the state of Colorado to borrow up to $3.5 billion next year to fund up to 66 specific highway projects, according to the state ballot information booklet. The state would be required to identify a source of funding to repay the borrowed funds without raising taxes.

Crowder will not support Proposition 110 because it would instate a raised sales tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years. "I'm not interested in a sales tax increase for transportation, and that's what 110 does," he said.

"I think everybody has an agenda," Crowder said of the varying amendments and propositions on the state ballot. "And my agenda is the people of southern Colorado, because that's all I've ever known."