Ohioans Approve Livestock Care Standards Board

Sixty-four percent of Ohio voters favored Ohio’s State Issue 2 Tuesday, Election Day. The constitutional amendment will create a 13-member Livestock Care Standards Board to regulate food and farm policies in “the heart of it all.”

The majority of voters, nearly 2 million people, recognize the significance the board will have in shaping our state’s lead industry – agriculture.

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will
• Assure Ohio families have a safe, locally grown food supply
• Bring the best Ohio experts in animal care and food production together
• Reinforce consumer confidence in Ohio-raised food
• Maintain the viability of Ohio agriculture
• Sustain Ohio's family farms

Executive Director of the Ohio Soybean Association and president of Ohioans for Livestock Care John Lumpe said the vote represented "Ohio taking care of Ohio.”

“Decisions about food and farming should be made in Ohio, by Ohioans,” said Lumpe.

The bipartisan board will be administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and comprises three farmers, two veterinarians (including the state veterinarian), a food-safety expert, a local humane-society expert, two statewide farm-organization members, an Ohio agricultural-college dean, two Ohio consumers and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture who will also serve as its chairperson.

“The diverse group of experts serving on this board, together with Ohio’s citizens, will work to create a fair, uniform set of standards that ensure the safe and humane treatment of the state’s livestock and poultry, therefore sustaining the viability of Ohio’s family farmers and assuring safe, affordable food for all citizens,” said Ohio Agriculture Director Robert Boggs.

“We are committed to make this work,” said Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, referring to the amendment as the most important legislation to Ohio’s agricultural community since a proposed pesticide-labeling initiative in the 1990s.

The issue passed in all Ohio counties except Athens County.

“It is clear that all Ohioans – rural and suburban, Republican and Democrat – have come together and recognize just how important agriculture is to the state,” said Lumpe.

The amendment originated as a response to threats from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS – an organization that advocates vegetarianism) to initiate legislation in the Ohio Constitution similar to California’s Proposition 2 last November, which banned animal confinement. HSUS seeks to outlaw poultry cages, veal crates and gestation stalls in Ohio.

Though the ballot initiative passed, HSUS has vowed to intervene in Ohio’s agricultural practices in the future.

At CantonRep.com, several bloggers weighed in about the issue’s passage:

“The efforts being 'thwarted' are those of the Humane Society of the United States. I am searching for a less loaded phrase than 'radical animal-rights lobbying organization,' and yet I really cannot find a better means of description. To give you an idea, JP Goodwin, who is in senior leadership at HSUS, has made the following statement: “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.'”

Fisher is hopeful that the board will be in session by spring 2010.

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