By Steve Cornett, editor emeritus Beef Today
Without predicting a lot of success for their efforts, let's congratulate Ohio agricultural leaders and legislators for at least taking a stand against the Humane Society of the United States.
Both houses of the legislature rushed through a proposed constitutional amendment which would create a Livestock Care Standards Board that one would hope could serve as something of a Solomon board to finally apply science and common sense to the animal rights juggernaut.
Now, just how much common sense can be injected into the culture that we watched mourn Michael Jackson last week, I don't know. I'm apparently from another time. Or another place or something.
But we've talked about the problem before. You've got us over here trying to make a living with $1 feeders and $83 fats, and then you've got a set of animal rights groups with big bucks from Hollywood and Bank of America credit cards selling their agenda to the American public the same way marketers sell tooth whiteners and deodorants—by promising they'll make consumers feel good about themselves.
The HSUS, which tries to be the good cop to PETA's bad cop, had set their sights on Ohio, hoping to use the threat of their ballot successes in places like California and Florida to squeeze a "voluntary” agreement with Ohio agriculture. The state National Farmers Union affiliate bit, if only because the NFU tends to share the HSUS disdain for "corporate” agriculture.
Their argument was that if the state didn't voluntarily do what HSUS demanded, that HSUS might get it pushed through in a referendum.
So, faced with the choice of jumping off the cliff or being pushed off, the Farmers Union agreed to jump. But they were in the minority. The Ohio Farm Bureau and others united behind the legislative push for a new board, and it happened quickly. The governor has promised to sign it. It would then go the voters in November, and you can bet the animal rights groups will spend liberally in hopes of defeating it.
And, in fact, that is exactly what the HSUS promises to do, with a spokesman also predicting a referendum on their issues come 2010,
We should hope that A) the voters approve this new board and B) the board takes the steps to establish credibility. That should include a solid look at the issues of animal care and--if they feel science warrants new, more intrusive regulations--establishing new rules.
That would provide other states with something of a framework they can use to move some of the emotion out of animal care issues and replace it with hard facts. There's cause for optimism in that approach.