By Kim Watson, Beef Today editor
Yesterday, Ohio voters approved the Livestock Care Standards Constitutional Amendment (Issue 2 on the ballot), which creates a new state board that would develop and oversee guidelines for the care of livestock and poultry.
"Ohioans have spoken and 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," says John Lumpe, president, Ohioans for Livestock Care PAC. "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"
The amendment aims to head off what could potentially be a major firestorm by establishing official guidelines and practices for caring for livestock and a board to oversee them before someone else does, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Earlier this year, when the Humane Society of the United States called the Ohio Farm Bureau to "compromise” on potential animal welfare legislation. The organization decided to put the issue to voters and worked to get the issue on the ballot amending the state's constitution. Other Ohio agriculture groups joined to support.
Issue 2 was designed to prevent activist groups from dictating how food is produced in Ohio. Animal rights groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, have worked to pass new regulations for the confinement of farm animals such as pigs, hens and calves in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine and Oregon. Members of our state's agriculture community worried if similar measures were enacted here, it would cause the cost of food to rise for consumers, increase costs for farmers and reduce the availability of locally-raised products.This time, Ohio's agriculture leaders have made the first move in what proponents call an attempt to prevent thousands of farmers from going out of business while preserving food safety and affordability.
The 13-memeber board will include three family farmers, two veterinarians (one of whom is the state veterinarian), a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two members representing Ohio consumers.
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