State Issue 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to establish and implement standards of care for livestock and poultry. Supporters of the amendment say the issue creates standards that ensure livestock well-being, maintain food safety, assure locally grown and raised food supply and protect Ohio farms and families, while opponents say the amendment puts the economic interests of factory farms ahead of the welfare of farm animals.
“The creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is something we can all agree upon, and is the right thing for Ohio,” Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said, professing his support for Issue 2 during a rally in Columbus Oct. 14.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State, the proposed amendment would:
• Require the state to create the Livestock Care Standards Board to prescribe standards for animal care and well-being that endeavor to maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families.
• Authorize this bipartisan board of 13 members to consider factors that include, but are not limited to, agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being, biosecurity, disease prevention, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety practices, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers when establishing and implementing standards.
• Provide that the board shall be comprised of 13 Ohio residents including representatives of Ohio family farms, farming organizations, food safety experts, veterinarians, consumers, the dean of the agriculture department at an Ohio college or university and a county humane society representative.
• Authorize the Ohio department that regulates agriculture to administer and enforce the standards established by the board, subject to the authority of the General Assembly.
The Ohio Farm Bureau and its backers expect to spend between $3 million and $5 million in support of Issue 2, to create a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board including Ohio’s agriculture director, family farmers, veterinarians, a representative of a local humane society and consumers.
Wyatt Bates, vice president of the Scioto County Farm Bureau, said he joins the state bureau in supporting Issue 2.
“Ohio farmers are under attack and need your help. A ‘yes’ vote on Issue 2 will go a long way in ensuring that the food you have is safe and produced by the highest standards,” he said.
Animal rights groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States, are targeting the 24 states that allow signature-driven petitions to appear on their ballots. The group lists six reasons to vote ‘no’ on Issue 2.
• Issue 2 seeks to stop animal welfare improvements.
• Issue 2 threatens our food safety and health.
• Issue 2 favors large factory farms, not Ohio’s family farmers.
• Issue 2 threatens Ohio’s environment.
• Issue 2 sets Ohio backwards, while other states are moving forward.
• Issue 2 is opposed by leading organizations and experts.
These reasons are explained in greater detail on their Web site, www.hsus.org.
Big farm operators say animals rights groups are telling only part of the story, and Bates says groups like the Humane Society are arguing from an emotional position based not on facts or sound agricultural principals.
“There is a prevailing misperception that farmers mistreat the animals they depend on for their livelihood. Farmers spend untold hours and dollars caring for these animals. They provide high quality foods and protect them from disease, illnesses and predators. Farmers provide shelter appropriate to their needs and in many cases the shelter is environmentally controlled very similar to the homes we have. The well being of farm animals is of the highest importance to farmers. Sickly and poorly cared for livestock has no place in the marketplace,” Bates said.
He said science plays a vital role in the safe and affordable supply of food, and noted that cattle raised for beef production have different feed needs than dairy cattle. The same is also true, he said, of the various types of poultry and other livestock raised.
“The American farmer produces such abundance of high quality food at such an affordable value to the consumer that the opponents of modern agriculture and Issue 2 are not complaining about having safe and affordable food but they complaining about how the food is produced,” Bates said. “Instead of complaining about how Ohio farmers produce our food, we should stop chewing long enough to extend a heartfelt thank you.”
The fate of Issue 2 will finally be left for Ohio voters to decide Tuesday.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.