Forward by Christopher R. Raines
Last year in Ohio, residents voted by nearly a 2-to-1 margin to amend its state constitution and create a Livestock Care Standards Board. The board consists of appointed veterinarians and farmers, and other animal and agriculture experts. A summary of this ballot measure can be read in this BEEF magazine article. Now the group “Ohioans for Humane Farms” have introduced a petition requiring “minimums” that the new board should adopt. That’s neat.
Isn’t that why the board exists in the first place? This will be another interesting year for Ohio’s animal agriculture. An article posted today from Farm & Dairy summarizes the petition (also posted below), and the comments section for the Farm & Dairy article can be read here. I assume that the wording of the requested regulations in the article below reflects exactly as the petition reads. And why is the “downer cow” issue even mentioned, since it’s already prohibited at the federal level? (I have my ideas as to why this verbiage is included.)
Monday, February 1, 2010
The battle begins: Ohioans for Humane Farms files petition
COLUMBUS — Producers and state officials had heard whispers, it was coming. Now, its official: The Humane Society of the United States has launched a counter attack on Ohio Feb.1.
Ohioans for Humane Farms submitted a petition — including signatures from Ohio voters in 48 counties, —to Ohio’s Secretary of State in support of placing an anti-cruelty measure on the statewide November ballot.
The proposed measure would allow voters to require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt certain minimum standards that will prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, protect the environment and strengthen Ohio family farms.
Utilizing a volunteer base, the group will seek to collect more than 600,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters upon approval of the petition forms by the secretary of state.
This measure will allow Ohio voters to provide guidance to the newly enacted Livestock Board and set certain minimum humane standards that will prevent cruel factory farming practices in Ohio, including:
·Extreme confinement in tiny cages for months on end: Tens of thousands of veal calves, 170,000 breeding pigs, and approximately 27 million egg-laying hens in Ohio are confined in cages and crates so restrictive the animals can barely move an inch for virtually their whole lives. Many don’t even have enough room to stretch their limbs or turn around.
·Allowing “downer cows” to enter the human food chain: Allowing sick and injured animals into the food supply threatens public health and food safety. Cows too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own to slaughter should be humanely euthanized, not inhumanely dragged or pushed while being shocked and beaten onto the kill floor to be used for human consumption.
·Inhumane methods of euthanasia for sick and injured animals: In Ohio, a factory farmer was videotaped killing sick pigs by hanging them execution-style from a tractor, leaving them to writhe in the air for minutes on end. He was acquitted of cruelty for the hangings, a verdict Ohio’s agribusiness community hailed as a “huge victory,” because Ohio has no law specifically requiring humane farm animal euthanasia methods.
The Board would have six years to implement these minimum standards, allowing producers ample time to transition to more humane systems. If the measure is enacted, Ohioans for Humane Farms hopes that the Livestock Board would immediately adopt minimum standards that address euthanasia and downer animals.
“We wouldn’t cram our pets into cages barely larger than their bodies for their entire lives, and we shouldn’t subject farm animals to this inhumane and unacceptable confinement either,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food.”
Michigan recently became the latest state to adopt reforms, providing farm animals with more space to turn around and extend their limbs, passing a measure in its state legislature in 2009 very similar in form to the Ohio proposal.
The Farm and Dairy staff is working to what the next step is for the petition and find out what this means to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
Check back here on our website for updates.