15 October 2009

Vote No On Issue 2

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Amendment is a constitutional amendment that voters will be deciding upon this November. If this amendment does pass it will create an entity called the Ohio Livestock Standard Board. Board members would be appointed by the governor and the state legislature; the Ohio Agriculture director would lead the panel of members. The purpose of this board would be to establish standards in the care of livestock and poultry.

Those who support the measure include Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau and just about every other cattle and poultry coalition within the state. Supporters claim that the panel could consult with experts in animal care ranging from animal behaviorists to veterinarians. They believe it would keep Ohio’s animal care issues within state and would prevent out of state interests from influencing Ohio’s farmers. Thus keeping costs low whilst still allowing input on the well being of livestock and poultry.

Opposition to this constitutional amendment includes The Humane Society of the United States, League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio Sierra Club. Not to mention the editorial boards of the Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. According to opposition the amendment is designed to favor large factory farmers not family farmers as it claims. The panel would most likely still allow tight animal quarters to allow the large assembly line operations to keep production high and keep costs low.

Ohio is one of the top veal producers in the country. The Humane Society claims that many calves are chained by their necks inside crates that are so confined that they cannot turn around for months. Many of the state’s 170,000 breeding pigs are kept in 2 foot wide crates that are barely larger than their bodies. This confinement continues much of their life. Additionally Ohio’s approximately 28 million egg laying hens are cramped in cages that restrict them from spreading their wings.

This leads me to only one conclusion, I am voting no on Issue 2. I will not further entrust factory farmers to make proper decisions on animal care. I don’t buy that a legislature and governor that are constantly subjected to big money lobbyists will choose board members that are sympathetic to animal needs. Truly if these farmers are concerned with animal welfare, and not their bottom line, why haven’t they acted prior to this proposed amendment? It is pretty clear that they want to avoid more wide sweeping legislation that would force them into confining their animals more humanely. The entire EU has outlawed the type of animal confinement that is still incorporated in Ohio. Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine and Florida have also proscribed these practices. Ohio should follow suit and allow a Humane Society backed plan that has advanced animal welfare in these states. Until we learn how to treat our animals with respect and dignity we will never evolve into a truly compassionate society.