By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis is drawing fire after declaring March 20 “Meatout” day in Colorado. He’s asking Coloradans to eat only plant-based products that day.

(credit: CBS)

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State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a third-generation Colorado rancher, is among those who are outraged.

He took the floor of the state Senate Friday and took the governor to task over the proclamation that he says could impact The National Western Stock Show.

Sonnenberg says words have consequences especially when they’re the words of the governor.

“We can’t have leadership in this state throw the number two industry in this state under the bus…that’s unacceptable!!”

It’s not the first time the governor, whose partner is vegan, has snubbed the beef industry. Sonnenberg recalled how Polis plugged Burger King’s meatless burger when it came out, even sending a bunch of them to the Department of Agriculture.

“This contributes to his war on rural Colorado and creates an even bigger divide and it is a slap in the face.”

It could also have economic ramifications. Sonnenberg says the National Hereford Association is now threatening to leave the National Western, saying the proclamation is the last straw.

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(credit: CBS)

Polis isn’t backing off and is, in fact, downplaying the controversy, “We do hundreds of these proclamations.”

He suggests everyone’s overreacting, noting that he’s expanded markets for Colorado beef and he likes meat or, at least, he likes cooking it.

“One of my quarantine holidays learning to cook some of the underappreciated cuts including flanks and round steak and I’ll put my brisket against anybody’s brisket in the state.”

Sen. Rhonda Fields suggests the governor is tone-deaf, “Have you seen the lines in reference to people getting boxes of food? And we want to have a day of no meat?”

Sonnenberg also isn’t amused and asked his Senate colleagues to join him in sending a message, “Members, I’m asking you to stand up for ag, be vocal for ag.”

The National Western released a statement saying the proclamation is disappointing but wouldn’t say whether it might hurt the stock show.

Credit: Thinkstock

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Meantime, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is holding a “Meatin” day March 20, the same day as “Meatout” day. It has posted a list of beef barbeques planned across the state and restaurants and stores that will be offering meat specials on its website.

Shaun Boyd