• Ohio Issue 2: Let's NOT Establish a Livestock Care Board

    by  • October 8, 2009 • Local Food • 7 Comments

    The voters of the state of Ohio will consider Ohio Issue Two, an agricultural constitutional amendment, this November 3, 2009.  The full text of the amendment is available from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.  I encourage you to read it if you are an Ohio voter.  The ballot language is shortened and less detailed.

    Several readers and friends have asked my opinion on the issue.  I addressed it with some of the small farmers I know, but none wanted to share their opinion on the record.

    I never intended Hounds in the Kitchen to address political issues but I think Issue 2 relates to the purpose of the blog and people have asked, so here is my opinion:

    I do not support Issue Two and I will vote against it.

    Livestock standards already exist and there are government agencies having jurisdiction over livestock production and food safety.  Many groups already promote local food.  Creating another government body causes redundancy in an area that doesn’t warrant redundancy.

    The proposed Board is comprised almost entirely of political appointees.  This concerns me because whereas current farming standards are subject to public opinion gathering from the state Department of Agriculture, the questionably motivated appointees would have full jurisdiction without public comment.  Furthermore, regulation changes from Board turnover after every four year election could be difficult for farmers to follow.

    Issue Two was drafted and quickly pushed through the Ohio house and senate by agricultural interest groups in reaction to animal rights issues passed recently in several other US states.  The animal rights issues passed in other states required minimal animal rights including space for chickens to turn around and cows to lay down.  I support these minimal animal rights, and if the Issue was drawn in opposition to animal rights issues like these,  I must assume the proposed Board may discourage proactive animal rights.

    This issue was presented by corporate agricultural interests and the vote yes campaign is supported by Big Ag money.  The Board would be tasked with ‘protect(ing) Ohio farms and families’.  If the issue was raised by Big Ag companies, I am thinking the new structure would protect Big Ohio farms, possibly at the expense of the smaller family farms I support.

    Finally, Issue 2 is a constitutional amendment establishing a new constitutional article.  I do not believe state constitutions should include such mundane considerations.  Issue 2, at minimum, is a misuse of the constitution.

    I encourage you to make your own informed decision.  Below is a list of resources for voting in Ohio and opinions on both sides of the issue.

    Voter Information from the Secretary of State

    Columbus Dispatch Overview of the Issue

    Ohio ACT Vote No website

    Vote Yes website

    Humane Society of the US Vote NO page

    Ohio League of Women Voters Opposes Issue Two

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. I often wear purple and never refuse a drink.


    7 Responses to Ohio Issue 2: Let's NOT Establish a Livestock Care Board

    1. Ann
      October 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks for sharing your insight and opinion! I have heard so much against it, I would also like to read up on the other side’s argument. Thanks for providing links to do so.

    2. Eliza
      October 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks for posting this! It gives me some more food to chew on.

    3. TobiLynne
      October 9, 2009 at 8:10 am

      I completely agree. I’ve been in an argument on a Dispatch forum all week about this, and I’m dumbfounded.

      1) Most of the farmers I’ve spoken with say they already treat their livestock well and don’t want HSUS to be able to have a say in their treatment of animals … to which I respond that if that’s the case, they have nothing to worry about – Big Ag does. If Big Ag were required to treat their animals with the same care, it would likely make family farmers MORE competitive as they won’t be able to use battery cages, etc to strengthen their bottom line.

      2) There has been a upswing of citizens becoming knowledgeable about how these animals are treated and people wanting that changed. Animal rights aside (and for disclosure, I feel quite strongly about animal rights), I don’t a chicken I eat to have been stuck in a battery cage next to a chicken corpse. Recent outbreaks of eColi and Salmonella mean something is awry and needs attention.

      3) (As I posted over on the Dispatch) If this were a bank wanting to have a board to dictate financial legislation, would we allow this to pass? Absolutely not. They’re using fear tactics to scare family farmers into passing an unconstitutional bill. This is a TERRIFYING precedent to set. Even if you are for this legislation, think about what kind of precedent this is going to set for other big businesses. We cannot allow corporations to amend our Constitution to sidestep future voter wanted legislation!!

    4. Thomas
      October 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

      As a Farm Bureau member I worked on our local committee to find ways to fight and defeat HSUS and PETA at their own game.

      My problem with this constitutional amendment is the excessive power it places in the hands of a 13 member group of non-elected bureaucrats.

      This issue should not have been a constitutional amendment. The same objective to thwart PETA and HSUS could have been accomplished by including the key words “agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being” in section 900 of the Ohio Revised Code.

      The big question for me is, “What did it take to twist the arms of all the members of both the House and Senate to make them take such a draconian measure?” If we change the Constitution every time the wind blows from the wrong direction, what value remains in it? What next? Change the US Constitution to remove free speech and religious freedom?

      VOTE NO on ISSUE 2

    5. Thomas
      October 24, 2009 at 12:35 am

      Issue 2 is an expansion of State Government that creates unchecked power and new layers of unaccountable bureaucracy over our livestock farmers.

      What did it take to twist the arms of all the members of both the House and Senate to make them take such a draconian measure? If we change the Constitution every time the wind blows from the wrong direction, what value remains in it? What next? Change the US Constitution to remove free speech and religious freedom?

      The text of issue 2 shows just how rushed the process was and how little thought went into doing the job right. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is not even an imperfect solution. It is not a solution at all. The correct solution is to add the proper language into Ohio Revised Code, a process that would require both the House and Senate to debate and agree on language and the Governor to sign the bill into law.

      We are being told that this Board will protect farms from animal rights groups, but what will protect the farmers from the Board, a panel of bureaucrats without accountability?

      After reading the proposed resolution, we have several questions regarding Issue 2.

      Why did the Ohio Farmers Union decide to oppose issue 2 in their August meeting?

      Will we need a license or permit to own and raise livestock in this state?

      Will special training and classes be required to obtain the right to raise livestock?

      Will someone come to our farm to ensure that we follow the guidelines set forth by this Board, without search warrants or probable cause?

      Will we be criminals, and subject to fines/prison if we disagree with the standards set by the Board and fail to comply?

      Will these board members be paid? If so, who decides their salary?

      How will the actions of this board be funded: by taxpayers or farmers?

      How will Board decrees be enforced?

      How long will the terms of appointees be? Indefinite or limited?

      Why is this Board given “excusive authority to establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in this state” instead of the farmer?

      Why are the members of this Board appointed (10 by Governor) and not voted into their position by the farmers themselves?

      What appeal process will be available for those who wish to challenge the standards set by this Board? Will that appeal require a fee also?

      Why only three “family farmers”? Won’t they be outnumbered by the other 10 non-farmers?

      What effect will the approval of the Board have on organic and all natural farms?

      Why is Farm Bureau using fear to provoke the acceptance of this amendment?

      Will this Board view livestock as the private property of the farmers with Divine right to govern them as their own conscience directs? Or is livestock the property of the State?

      Will this Board establish rules regarding vaccines?

      Will we be required to keep updated farm records and submit them annually to this board?

      Will the Amish of Ohio be exempt from any rules that contradict their religious beliefs?

      Why would we want to establish a government entity to “protect us (farmers) from special interest groups” when the very way these groups achieve their goals is to lobby and control government entities?

      Doesn’t this proposed amendment contradict the original FFA Creed. paragraph three, which states:

      I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of organized farmers to serve our own and public interest in marketing the product of our toil. I believe we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.
      If we have sworn the oath of the Pledge Of Allegiance, which professes “Liberty and Justice for all,” since this amendment takes the liberty to raise livestock from an individual farmer and gives it to the direct control of the State, would we be committing hypocrisy according to our spoken oath?

      Are horses included under the authority of this Board? If not, shouldn’t they be protected from animal rights groups too and be subject to the standards decreed by this Board?

      Is forfeiture of liberty the only way to protect livestock farms in Ohio from animal rights groups? Are there other options available?

      In conclusion, we support the opposition to Issue 2 as expressed by the Ohio Farmers Union, The League of Women Voters, Ohio Food and Water Watch, The Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and all the major newspapers in Ohio.

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