Ohio voters back animal care | TSLN.com

Ohio voters back animal care

Chris Clayton

OMAHA (DTN) – Ohio agricultural groups scored an electoral victory Tuesday with the passage of a constitutional amendment creating a livestock care standards board and preempting a possible ballot campaign by the Humane Society of the United States.

Voters in the state backed Issue 2 with 1.95 million votes for the measure compared to 1.11 million votes against it, or 63.66 percent in support. The measure, which changes Ohio’s state constitution, lost in only one county statewide.

Ohio officials will now create a 13-member Livestock Care Standards board specifically to define animal-care standards in the state. The state’s department of agriculture will implement those standards. Issue 2 did not ban or target any specific livestock practices such as sow gestation crates.

John Lumpe, president of the Ohioans for Livestock Care Political Action Committee, released a statement noting that voters stated they “clearly understand that a board of experts is the appropriate entity to make decisions on behalf of animal agriculture and food production in our state. Passage of Issue 2 is a win for everyone who acknowledges the essential relationship between excellent farm animal care and a safe, affordable, locally grown food supply. Voters agree with Ohio’s farm community and our diverse base of supporters – decisions about food and farming should be made in Ohio, by Ohioans.”

Issue 2 was sparked by a meeting earlier this year between the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio livestock and agricultural groups. The Humane Society wanted Ohio livestock groups to change production practices in the state. If changes weren’t made, the HSUS argued, Ohio agricultural groups risked a possible ballot measure in 2010 comparable to those the HSUS successfully won in Arizona and California that banned specific livestock practices.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, issued a statement Tuesday night stating that supporters of Issue 2 packaged the measure as “pro-animal welfare and pro-food safety” to assure passage. Pacelle made it clear that HSUS will continue to make Ohio another battleground for the group’s agenda.

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“We have not viewed Issue 2 as a poisonous package, but rather an empty one,” Pacelle stated. “The Ohio Farm Bureau and other agribusiness lobby groups cooked it up in an effort to block real reform.”

Pacelle stated, “Now that the Issue 2 campaign is over, we can get on with such real reform – a measure to phase out the extreme confinement of animals in veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages, where they cannot even turn around and stretch their limbs. Both sound science and common sense show that these confinement systems are inhumane and should be phased out.

“We decided to spend nearly no money against Issue 2 and to reserve our energy and resources for an effort to promote the humane treatment of animals, protect food safety and the environment, and allow Ohio farmers to remain competitive in the decades ahead.”

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs issued a statement that passage of the measure will keep food and agriculture vibrant in Ohio.

“The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will serve Ohio’s citizens in a way that will be transparent and open. Ohioans who desire to have their voices heard will have an opportunity to do so during this public process,” Boggs stated. “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.”