Colorado made national news last week after a proposed bill in a state House committee banning cow tail docking ignited an intense debate. After briefly delaying a vote, the bill is moving out of committee.
According to an Associated Press report available here, the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee voted on Thursday to pass the bill to the full House.
It passed on a 6 to 5 vote.
If enacted into law, House Bill 1231 would ban farmers from docking cow tails except when performed by a veterinarian using anesthesia.
Some dairymen believe that their cows stay cleaner when the tails are docked. But consumers don't understand "why you would mess with nature." And, tails are a way for cows to swat flies.
The Sterling, Colo., Journal-Advocate reports that Norm Dinis, owner of Empire Dairy in Wiggins, Colo., was one of the dairy farmers who testified at the committee’s hearing. After intense questioning from committee representatives, Dinis testified that he and the dairy industry are partially to blame for not being more active on the issue.
"People in this industry have caved [to animal rights groups' pressure] in hopes that these groups would go away and leave us alone. These groups are hell-bent on regulating our industry. They don't trust us. We've done a poor job" of educating consumers on this issue, Dinis said.
Just a handful of Colorado dairies use tail docking, and because so few would be affected by the bill, some – including Republican Representative Amy Stephens – looks at the bill as bullying.
The National Milk Producers Federation has recommended that dairies phase it out over the next nine years. Other states to make tail docking illegal include California, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Ohio has announced it will stop the practice in 2018.