Ohio Puts The Livestock Care Standards Board To Vote

Rincker Law Food & Ag Law, Food & Ag Policy 3 Comments

In the midst of Ohio 4-H County Fair season, the state’s legislature took the initiative this summer to try to create a 13-member Livestock Care Standards Board as an amendment to Section 1 of the Article XIV of the Ohio Constitution.  The Joint Resolution of the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate passed on July 13, 2009; therefore, the constitutional issue will be put to a vote on Election Day by the state on November 3, 2009.

If passed in November, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board would have the authority to promulgate regulations “governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry” while considering food safety, biosecurity, disease prevention, farm animal morbidity, and the preservation of Ohio agriculture and family farming.  The Board will be chaired by the Ohio Director of Agriculture (currently Robert Boggs).  With the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate, the Governor of Ohio (currently Ted Strickland who is in support of the Board) will then appoint the following Ohio resident members for the Board:

1.  Someone to represent family farms;

2.  An expert in food safety;

3.  Two people representing statewide organizations that represent farmers (e.g., Ohio Farm Bureau);

4.  Two veterinarians (one who is a State Veterinarian in the Ohio Department of Agriculture and one who is not);

5.  A dean of an agriculture department of an Ohio college or university (e.g., The Ohio State University, College of Agriculture);

6.  Two Ohio citizens representing consumers in the state; and,

7.  One person to represent a county humane society organized under Ohio state law (e.g., Fairfield Area Humane Society).  (*Please note that the Human Society of the United States‘ (“HSUS”) is not associated to county humane societies or local animal shelters.)

In addition to these members, two “family farmer[s]” will be appointed (one by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and one by the President of the Senate). This Board will be bi-partisan since the constitutional amendment will prohibit more than 7 members of the Board be from the same political party.

This proactive approach by the Ohio legislature was in response to successful ballot initiatives in California, Arizona, and Florida.  HSUS signaled Ohio agriculture commodity groups (including Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Pork Producers Council, Ohio Poultry Association, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association) that it planned on having a similar ballot initative in Ohio.  Due to this, the Ohio legislature decided to take matters into their own hands by creating this Board.  This Board would allow farmers, veterinarians, and consumers to play an active role in the process of developing animal care and handling regulations.

Ohioans are anxiously awaiting the results from the November election.  Ohioans for Livestock Care is a group of citizens in strong support of voting “Yes” to Issue 2 on Election Day.  You can contact the Ohioans for Livestock Care here.  The group also provides some resources here including this fact sheet.  It will be interesting to watch whether Ohio citizens ultimately vote yey or nay to this constitutional amendment.

As an aside, it is important for all of us to take part of the democratic processes on the national, state, and local levels whether you agree or disagree with proposed initiatives or candidates.  If you are a resident of Ohio, you can register to vote or volunteer to be a poll worker here.

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