Oklahoma State of the State

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State address in Oklahoma City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

Gov. Jared Polis professed his love of agriculture and the National Western Stock Show in an open letter this week.

Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg signed on as well.

The declaration comes after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt called out Colorado in his State of the State address Monday for its coronavirus measures that led to the cancellation of this year's 115th National Western, which normally runs 16 days in Denver each January.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, name-checked Colorado's capital city in his State of the State address.

“The folks in Denver turned their back on the ag industry,” the Sooner governor said. “They wouldn’t let them have their major national cattle show, because they insisted on keeping their state locked down. That put the stability of the U.S. beef industry in danger."

Polis did not name Stitt in his statement, beyond expressing his support for the farm and ranch community, which he's clashed on issues with such as meatless hamburgers, chicken cages, the appointment of an animal rights activist to the state vet board who badmouthed both 4-H and dairy farmers, and setbacks for the oil and gas industry, revenue ag producers depend on.

“The agriculture community is the cornerstone to the foundation of our state," Polis and Greenberg wrote. "In fact, the state had a Cattlemen’s Association before we had a capitol. My administration has done everything possible to successfully keep agriculture open for business through the toughest of times because we understand that agriculture is Colorado. We are also steadfastly committed to the future of agriculture.

"Agriculture touches every corner of our state, from the Southeast Plains’ dry land farming, to the central mountains’ sheep and cattle ranches to our beloved Palisade peaches and Olathe sweet corn on the Western Slope. The long history, and ever-evolving innovative nature of agriculture in our state has meant Colorado’s producers have not only provided incalculable benefit for Colorado, but to the United States and the world, and we are committed to ensuring they do so for generations to come. Nowhere is this innovation, this deep knowledge of the land, the culture, and the business showcased more prominently every year than at the National Western Stock Show.”

He noted that efforts to keep the National Western in Denver has been a bipartisan mission to raise hundreds of millions of public and private dollars to turn the 100-acre National Western site at Brighton Boulevard and Interstate 70 into a showplace backed by the education and business of agriculture.

“We know we are joined by state and local officials from both sides of the aisle, and throngs of individuals from across the state and nation in expressing our strong and steadfast support for the National Western Stock Show, especially during these challenging times," Polis and Greenburg wrote. "We look forward to working closely with those supporters to ensure a long and successful future for the Stock Show in Colorado.

"We will continue to explore a multitude of ways to ensure a lengthy future for the Stock Show, as well as our other beloved agricultural events like the State Fair. This includes but is not limited to the utilization of stimulus dollars, as my administration strongly supports investments in the success of our farming and ranching communities.”

Stitt is a businessman from Norman, who, like Polis, was elected to his first term in 2018. His grandfather was once the head veterinarian at the Oklahoma City Stockyards.

As for its fight against COVID-19, last week Oklahoma's attorney general, Mike Hunter, is trying to negotiate the return of 1.2 million hydroxychloroquine pills the state bought in April, when President Trump was touting the drug as an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Oklahoma has had 394,283 confirmed cases and 3,654 deaths, the state health department said Wednesday. Colorado has reported 399,267 and 5,390 deaths.

Colorado has about 5.7 million residents to Oklahoma's 3.9 million.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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