The Human Society of the United States (HSUS) is threatening to support legislation in Ohio that bans the use of modern production practices for livestock and egg producers. The HSUS was successful in supporting passage of a similar ballot measure (Proposition 2 in California) that bans confinement of hens, pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal by the year 2015.
In response, Ohio farm and ranch leaders propose creating an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board through a ballot measure placed before voters in November. It would include farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert and a designee from a local humane society, two consumers and the dean of an Ohio agriculture college. Areas the board would address are best management practices, farm biosecurity and food safety.
The HSUS calls the proposed board a "special interest power grab” and says agribusiness groups should instead "come to the table with HSUS and other animal protection and environmental advocates to work cooperatively on phasing out certain abusive and unsustainable practices.”
The HSUS says it is prepared to launch a statewide ballot initiative campaign for November 2010 to ensure that animals on factory farms are given enough room to turn around and extend their limbs.
"Ohio is a significant state with substantial production of beef, dairy, poultry and pork,” says Don Lipton, director of public relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation. "It has more diverse livestock production than previous HSUS battleground states. In national politics, Ohio is a bellwether state, one that is fiercely contested. It's also the site of a lot of consumer test marketing, partly because of its rich mix of rural and urban areas.” The outcome in Ohio could influence future battles—and the livestock industry and demand for feed.