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Coming Election Could Change Ohio's Welfare Rules

by 5m Editor
30 October 2009, at 8:46am

OHIO, US - If passed in next week's election, Ohio state Issue 2 may set up a board that will set standards for livestock and poultry welfare.

State Issue 2 on Ohio voters' ballots for the election on 3 November is an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would establish a board to govern the treatment of livestock and poultry on statewide farms.

KentNewsNet reports that, if passed, the amendment would authorize the state to create a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The members would consist of the director of the department of agriculture, a family farmer appointed by the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, a family farmer appointed by the Ohio Senate president, and 10 other members appointed by the governor with confirmation from the Ohio Senate.

The board would set standards that would govern how livestock and poultry are cared for throughout the state. Livestock and poultry in Ohio include beef cattle, dairy cattle, hogs, lamb, sheep, chicken and turkey.

Cindy Kalis, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the main purpose of the amendment is to establish one set of standards for livestock and poultry welfare in Ohio. She added that care of livestock and poultry varies from county to county because each is responsible for its own.

"Issue 2 would provide all Ohioans a place to voice their opinions and concerns," Ms Kalis said. "It will be a forum where people can meet and discuss."

Joe Cornely, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, which supports the issue, said the governor and General Assembly would oversee the board to ensure its goals are met.

He said: "Consumers are farther and farther removed from the farm and don't know what happens at a modern farm. They have expectations about how farms should be run. So (the amendment) will set up perimeters of what's acceptable."

One group that opposes the amendment is the Geauga Humane Society, according to KentNewsNet.

"Making a board that's a constitutional amendment will be above the oversight of the voting public," said Hope Brustein, executive director of the organisation.

On its web site, the humane society states: 'If Issue 2 passes, it will be harder to reform and improve the conditions and treatment of farm animals and poultry in Ohio.'

Hope Brustein said the organisation believes the only one who will benefit from this will be big agribusiness.

Mr Cornely said there is no such thing as big agribusiness. He said: "Ninety-eight percent of farms in Ohio are family-owned farms – just some are bigger than others."

Farm organisations such as the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Livestock Coalition and Ohio Pork Producers Council support the amendment.

Those against Issue 2 include the Geauga Humane Society, the Cleveland Animal Protection League and the Ohio Farmers Union.

"Fact is that just about everyone on both sides of this issue is concerned about improving the standards that govern care and treatment of livestock and poultry," Hope Brustein told KentNewsNet.