Editor’s Note: To read about the board’s first set of adopted standards, click here.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The veal subcommittee for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is nearing a vote of its own, and it’s getting more information along the way.
The board passed its first set of standards during its most recent meeting, Oct. 5, and is in the process of finalizing other standards, including veal production. During the public comment portion of the meeting, two members representing two animal protection organizations spoke about their concerns, and one presented the board with a document containing research it had compiled.
Corey Roscoe, representing Mercy For Animals, told the board tethering veal calves by their necks, in veal crates, is inherently wrong.
“Consumer awareness is growing on this issue,” she said. “We will continue to educate consumers about the inherent practice associated with veal crate production in Ohio and we urge the board to ban this practice.”
Her organization released an undercover video last month of veal calves raised at a farm in Wayne County, spliced with video from some other farms. The video received mixed review, and did not show any illegal activity at the farm, or mention the farm’s progress toward group housing, which the farm’s spokesperson said is on track to be complete by 2013.
Although identifying veal crates as the issue, Roscoe revealed in a press conference regarding MFA’s veal video, that the organization sees no acceptable way to raise veal.
In a video of the press conference, Roscoe said “the veal industry is inherently cruel. … We’re calling on consumers to make more compassionate choices and one of those choices is a healthy vegan diet.”
The board also heard from the Humane Society of the United States’ Karen Minton, who presented a summary of some research on veal crates and tethering. Minton, who is Ohio’s director for HSUS, said there have been multiple requests for such research.
Her document centered on the “intensive confinement of calves” raised for veal, stating that the majority of calves raised for veal in the United States are in this type of confinement.
The document details actions taken by other states, and mentions the American Veal Association’s resolution to phase out the use of individual pens or crates by 2017.
Minton’s document states “the current draft recommendations from the veal subcommittee inherently conflict with prevailing industry standards, as well as the AVMA guidelines.”
When given space, “healthy calves will play, gallop, buck, and kick, and when with other calves, they will also engage in play fighting,” the document reads.
The document concludes that, “our studies found that maintaining calves in crates is physically detrimental to the calf, something that is common knowledge in the industry.”
State Veterinarian Tony Forshey, who leads the veal subcommittee, said the concerns of all organizations will be weighed.
“There’s a lot of science available to support and to not support tethering,” he said.
Part of the support for tethering stems from the fact young calves penned together have a tendency to act on their suckling instincts, and may cause and re-expose abscesses on the navels of other animals.
At an earlier meeting, Forshey indicated it may be necessary to allow tethering, for a limited period of the calf’s life.
“Giving a blessing to the status quo is not necessarily the right thing to do,” he said, but noted changes need to be carefully made.
“I think this board has to take a very hard look to make sure we make the decisions to support the long-term viability of the veal industry,” he said.
The board is next scheduled to meet on Oct. 19. A vote on the veal standards could come within the next couple meetings.