Diverse crowd and views typical at Ohio’s livestock care meetings

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To read about board action at this meeting, view our previous report.

REYNOLDSBURG — There was no shortage of public opinion at the most recent Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board meeting — and that has been true most of the year.

The Dec. 7 meeting was filled to near capacity, with farmers, consumers, attorneys, veterinarians, animal rights activists and concerned citizens.

Their messages have been just as diverse — everything from improving animal welfare and treatment and improving consumer confidence in Ohio foods, to abstaining from animal products and an all-out abolishment of animal use.

“You really put a burden on us in some ways because of the diversity,” said outgoing Ohio Agriculture Director Robert Boggs, who took a few moments to address those who attended Dec. 7.

Diversity

He thanked the large public crowd for their comments, and said officials on the board ultimately have to come to a consensus about what they feel will be best for Ohio.

And many “thank yous” and “congratulations” were returned, as speakers took the floor one-by-one to present their own advice.

“The board has without question been put (through) a difficult task,” said The Humane Society of The United States’ Ohio director, Karen Minton.

She has attended most, if not all, of the regular board meetings, and many of the species subcommittee meetings. Her only objections to the board’s work have centered on decisions, or near-decisions, that differ from the agreement her organization formed with Ohio’s agriculture groups in late June.

And that was the case Dec. 7, as Minton publicly opposed creating a grandfather clause in the board’s swine standards, to allow existing stall-based facilities to expand or build similar stall-based facilities beyond 2025.

Wants “excellence”

Linda Davis, a volunteer with Ohioans for Humane Farms who represented her own views, held up a picture she had taken of an Issue 2 sign — the campaign in the fall of 2009 to form the care board. The sign promised “excellent animal care,” which she challenged the board to uphold.

“If what they (consumers) saw talked about ‘excellent’ animal care, I think it’s safe to say their intent was to have ‘excellent’ animal care,” she said.

But what is “excellent animal care?

Davis called for it more than a half-dozen times, so Farm and Dairy asked her during a break in the meeting, and how the board or farmers can be “excellent.”

“Excellent care for me would be different than the average American,” she said, “because I’m the extreme in terms of animal care. But I think at a minimum it would be to allow for any animal to move freely and not to be pumped with antibiotics … to get them larger faster and to get them on the plate sooner.”

Davis said she does not feel the board is working toward “excellent animal care,” even if it does adopt the provisions of the agreement.

“It’s a very good start, but does it meet the excellent category? No,” she said. “This agreement would not in itself get us to ‘excellent animal care.’”

Several in the audience said they were interested in “excellent care” and some farmers said they’ve lived by it, for generations. They just want “excellent” and “humane” to be something that is obtainable, good for their animals and affordable.

Already excellent?

Doug Heacock, a sixth-generation swine farmer from Ohio’s Morrow County, talked about how his family has given “excellent” care since the time they raised hogs in a woodlot, and had to carry straw long distances for bedding.

“I think that as our technology evolves, we always have that common theme to take care of the animal as well as we can and give them excellent care,” he said.

Some producers have argued they need the choice of stalls, partly because it makes it safer to work with the hogs, especially depending on the hog’s temperament of the hog and the personnel the farmers have.

Humane farms

Several supporters of the HSUS-sponsored Ohioans For Humane Farms spoke about the work they did this year to gather 500,000 signatures to put a measure on the ballot, mandating certain minimum standards to the board. The measure was halted in late June by the agreement.

Elinor Israel, of Akron, said she spent diligent time “educating Ohio citizens about the conditions in which Ohio farm animals exist, and obtaining their signatures to help improve those conditions.”

She said her 3,000 signatures made her one of the top gatherers in the state, and she’s prepared to get more, if the board doesn’t enact the terms in the agreement.

“I also want to guarantee you that if need be, I am fully prepared to go back and gather more signatures, should you decide not to live up to your commitment,” she said.

Technically, the board was not part of the agreement, and is fielding it as one of many recommendations. But the parties — Ohio’s farm groups and the nation’s largest animal protection organization — make it unique.

“No matter what side of the issue you are on, Ohioans aren’t looking to further the current status quo,” said Khristina Martin, a concerned citizen from Cincinnati. “A desire for change is reflected not only by consumers but the groups that made the agreement.”

Related Coverage:

OLCSB has hands full deciding veal standards, future of livestock in Ohio (Nov. 17, 2010)

OLCSB veal subcommittee, animal rights activists at odds over housing

Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board approves civil penalties.

Care board hears feedback on veal standards, big decision ahead.

Care board adopts state’s first standards: Euthanasia

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

13 Comments

  1. KCampbell says:

    I think it is great that the general public has the ability to voice their views to the board, this is America after all. I have no problem with any person; HSUS, OHF, MFA, OAAO, OFBF, being able to voice their thoughts. What does irritate me is the constant reminder by HSUS and/or their supporters that if the board moves in a direction they don’t like they have 500,000 +/- signatures. If I want to work with my neighbor it won’t be by threatening him.

    Farmers don’t opose Humane Treatment but you cannot expect them to change overnight, it takes time and money to convert a farm and I would belive that for most, if not all, the overall cost of feeding and care would come before renovation expenses. What would be the point of changing the system if you don’t have anything that will be using it. AR Supporters, attend the meetings, voice your concerns but leave the darn signatures out of this, the Board had nothing to do with the agreement just as Mr. Kick stated. Let the Board do the job the Ohio Voters gave them the power to do!

  2. berlinoh5 says:

    I would like to know if Linda Davis and Elinor Israel have ever owned a farm, worked on a farm or visited an Ohio farm. And if they worked or visited an Ohio farm, in what capacity did they work or visit.

    Also, when Ms. Israel said she spent diligent time – again, what exactly does this mean – “educating Ohio citizens about the conditions in which Ohio farm animals exist, and obtaining their signatures to help improve those conditions”, I would like to know what were those conditions? What was the data source for her opinions?

    In the same way we shouldn’t broad paint all people who care about animals as ‘animal extremists,’ I also feel that we shouldn’t do the same to those who earn a living within the agricultural community.

    I feel it’s this type of thinking that creates a divide for all of Ohio. In the end, we accomplish nothing of real value and innocent people and animals get caught in the crossfire.

  3. Farmer says:

    Freedom of speech is wonderful, but without some sort of “gestional crate” 50 percent of piglets die, smothered! The animal rights activist may mean well according to their beliefs but we really do need science based to feed the world. If vegans do not want to eat meat to save the earth, then they have a right not to. I get a little upset that the vegan animal rights agenda is trying to take the best sorce of protein from our plates and also by helping to bankrupt the USA. One very real topic we can see with HSUS and Wayne Pacelli’s vision is that he has not thought of what the vegan animal rights social movement is doing to the economy for his vision of a vegan and his grunts, where all animals roam free in a utopian like society. That vision was tried by many and failed. Truly how can anyone place any authority on a vegan rights social movement, one whose main goal is abolition of all animal use in any form. Hitler tried animal rights against those practiced religion and sent many of them to concentration camps. Is Wayne trying to do the same for USA citizens, send cattlement, dog owners, those caring for cat colonies, TNR, circus, send all the people who love and use animals for enjoyment and for food to some type of concentration camp for animal owners? What a distorted view the vegan animal rights movement. A rat is not the same as a pig or a boy and a mouse. How long must the humans who just happened through evolution, come out on top, and in all of this take the blame for the destruction of the world by the vegan animal rights social movement. We need to put some sanity in all of this along with science and not that was written, bought, or researched by animal rights activist. I have seen so many pictures of those poor sad puppies, cranked out especially near Christmas that I have become immune.

  4. Bill says:

    I have one question for Chris Keck. Are looking for a job with Wayne Pacelle as a reporter? Did you forget you work for a farming newspaper? Not a animal rights paper.

  5. Chris Kick says:

    Bill, your question is certainly a new one to me. With all respect, no, I’m not looking for a job with the HSUS. Not too long ago, someone from the activist side told me I if I kept it up, I’d have a high-ranking job with Farm Bureau some day. Not looking for that, either.

    I would say our coverage has held HSUS very accountable, probably more so than most newspapers. But at the same time, activists are allowed to present their arguments and their beliefs to the board, just as anyone else.

    Does it mean what they say is always right or complete? Absolutely not. When the source challenged the board to uphold “excellent” animal care, I tracked her down later, to ask, OK, but what is that?

    I was unable to followup with the lady who said she educated Ohioans about the way their animals are raised, but as the above poster fairly questions, what are those “conditions” and how does she base her opinion those conditions are wrong? I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with her by quoting her, just reporting her testimony before the board.

    One of the things about this agreement is that it does make HSUS a party at the table. And for better or worse, that does give them more say, in so much as what was agreed to.

    I mean, I care a heck of a lot about the farmers, but when I cover a public meeting like this, I have to try to represent the interests of the parties who comment, which I feel is what I did.

  6. KeithC says:

    Chris, you say that because of the agreement that gives HSUS more say when it comes to the board. As both sides have clearly stated numerous times, the agreement was not legal and binding, it was just a gentleman’s agreement. I do know that many of the commodity leaders and Mr. Boggs sit on either the main board or sub-committee’s however, I don’t see where HSUS has any more say than any farmer would just because Wayne Pacelle signed an agreement with Gov. Strickland, OFBF/Commodity Leaders signed it as well and they represent the Farmers, please explain why they would. My count would be 7 farm interests, 1 non-farmer interest and 1 not re-elected interest. Based on that, the farming aspect still comes out as having a greater say. As I have stated before, I think everyone should be able to voice their concerns but the board should be free to do it’s job without intimidation tactics from Animal Rigths supporters. We voted the board to review the information based on expert knowledge, sound scientific information and public input not just some non-legal agreement where all concerned parties where not fairly represented.

  7. Chris Kick says:

    Keith, I think I would be in agreement with what you’re saying here. Per your question, though, I don’t think the agreement gives HSUS more say than others, just more say than they would have had without it. And obviously, as the article states, the agreement was not made with the board members, just as a recommendation to them.

    You have some good points.

  8. darwin says:

    Let’s hope the Ohio farmers grow some “brass ones” like the Governor of Nebraska.. HSUS at the table? Why? they are a LOBBYING group whose objective ( no matter what the fearless vegan leader says) is to eliminate animal agriculture. . send them packing.. call their bluff.. their constant whining and threatening to pull out the 500,000 “signatures”?? tell them to have at it.. go for it.. my bet is that MANY people in Ohio now have a better picture of what the HSUS is trying to achieve.. and it ain’t pretty for farmers/ranchers OR consumers.. or even animals..
    When i was little and ineffective I at at the “kiddie” table .. that is where the HSUS should be.. in another room at the kiddie table.. playing with toy animals and eating veggies.. hey folks.. that is NOT the real world..
    Friends Don’t Let Friends Donate to the HSUS..

  9. Dr. Rosset says:

    Its time for the public to rethink this animal rights movement as it is becoming clear that there is a total lack of care about the reality all animals face from the animal rights movement as we watch horses starve, herds being killed off by the over growth of wolves, bears killing our children and cougars eating runners in their own neighborhoods. In the South and Western states 3.5 million 500 to 1000 pound feral pigs are destroying crop land and attacking people, but the animal rights people won’t let them be killed or stopped from invading homes and attacking people. Truly common sense has left these people who put animals before people. In reality they put their goal of a vegan state before the animals who they want to leave in the wild to die from starvation. These people need to be stopped as they are a clear and present danger to the safety of our country. Remember that all cults start by removing meat from the diet of their members because without VB12 the brain becomes irrational and overly emotional in its response. This makes these people easily led. This is a cult movement as evidenced by their own responses to anyone who states the opposite. When one of their own members discovered her health going downhill on the vegan diet she was pepper sprayed when she tried to present this viewpoint at one of their conferences. Before you advocate a vegan diet you had better read up on the consequences to young women that go beyond eating disorders. The darkside includes death, damage to internal organs and the bones when putting children on this diet. For boys the soy is a real problem and its the only vegetable that comes close to the complex proteins found in cows milk. Where this concept for animal rights comes from is Hitler who used it against his opposition. Singer the leader of the animal rights movement has espoused this line of thinking not because he cares about animals or humans, but just to see how far a strange idea can be carried out in society. His last article in the New York Times called on all of our young people to neuter themselves and then party down until the last human being dies out. The main identifier of a cult is that it requires you to remove meat from your diet on the pretext that it is cleansing. However the real purpose of the cult in having you stop eating meat is because meat rebuilds the body and the brain through a balance of complex proteins and essential nutrients in combination with VB12. When you are out of balance and low in VB12 your thinking becomes irrational and your behavior responses are overly emotional. 
Here are some recent examples of the consequences of eating a vegan diet on children and young adults:
In a heartbreaking case of parental neglect, a 12-year-old girl in
Scotland has been admitted to a hospital after a life-long vegan diet
left her with the spine of an 80-year-old. Raised on meat- and dairy-
free meals since birth, the young child is said to have developed a
severe case of rickets (a degenerative bone condition) and numerous
bone fractures as a result of her nutritional deficiencies. Sadly,
this is not the first time a child has suffered a vegan-related
health calamity.
    In a similar case five years ago, a 15-month-old child was taken into 
foster care after a strict vegan diet left her with internal 
injuries, broken bones, missing teeth, and rickets. And since then,
at least two vegan children have died from similar complications. In
 one Florida case, a 5-month-old girl was still at newborn weight when 
she died from malnutrition. Her siblings were severely malnourished,
 and at least two had developed rickets.
    These grievous examples show how important it is to exercise caution 
when promoting vegetarian and vegan diets —especially for children. A
 New York Times columnist explained after a 6-week-old Atlanta vegan
died last year: A vegan diet may lack vitamin B12, found only in animal foods; usable 
vitamins A and D, found in meat, fish, eggs and butter; and necessary 
minerals like calcium and zinc. When babies are deprived of all these 
nutrients, they will suffer from retarded growth, rickets and nerve
 damage.
    As animal activists tout the supposed superiority of meatless eating,
 it’s important to note that a vegan diet can be down right dangerous 
unless it’s undertaken with extreme caution. Not all people can digest
 protein from plant material and especially children. Extra steps like vitamin
 supplements and careful planning are particularly crucial for kids, 
since their bodies are not fully developed. Yet vegan activists at 
PETA and the woefully misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible 
Medicine (PCRM) continue to push vegan diets on children. Now Cass Sunstein the animal right leader and regulatory Czar has already moved meat to the bottom of the food pyramid and would if he could remove it from the recommendations altogether.
    Some 12 million infants and young children die each year in
 developing countries from complications of marasmus (protein- deficiency) and kwashiorkor (severe protein deficiency). Diarrhea,
 dehydration, and infection are generally the immediate causes of
 death in malnourished children. Kwashiorkor manifests clinically with 
stunted growth, mental apathy, edema, a desquamating patchy rash, and
pigment changes in the hair and skin. Children with marasmus 
typically retain mental alertness and do not have edema or rash.
Autopsies of children dying of kwashiorkor and marasmus show 
pancreatic atrophy or fibrosis and fatty changes or fibrosis in
 the liver. We are now finding these problems in American children of strict vegan parents.
    Malnutrition is one of the many risks when raising infants on a vegan
 diet. Medical reports show that newborns should mainly be raised on 
their mother’s breast milk, excluding soy milk.
The digestion of soy milk during pregnancy has become a growing 
controversy.
    A new study of babies born to vegetarian mothers showed that baby 
boys had a five-fold risk of hypospadias, a birth defect of the
 sexual organs. According to research stated by Jane Phillimore in the
 “Guardian Unlimited,” “The researchers suggest this was due to 
greater exposure to phytoestrogen rich-foods, especially soy.
 Inappropriate hormone levels such as that caused by a high intake of
 soy during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy can also cause damage to 
the fetus’s developing brain.”
    Research has shown that soy-formula contains approximately the same
 amount of estrogen found in five birth control pills. Imagine the 
effect this has on children, not to mention baby boys. “These babies’ 
isoflavone levels were found to be from 13,000 to 22,000 times higher
than in non-soy fed infants,” according to http://www.mercola.com. Not only
 would males be digesting surplus amounts of estrogen in their soy 
diet, but the estrogen has also been shown to actually stifle their 
testosterone levels. The only sustainable protein development comes from meat animals who turn grasses into high quality protein for human beings.

  10. FFA'73 says:

    Chris,
    I appreciate your attempts to provide balanced coverage.
    It is a good thing that the public can express their opinion in this type forum.
    But the “opinion” of the public should NOT be the determining factor in what is best for our animals. The passing of Issue 2 made that fact quite clear. Otherwise we might just as well allowed the public to “vote” on the rules to determine livestock care.
    Instead, the OLCSB was established to use a specific set of objective criteria in determining the Standards for livestock care. The temptation that the OLCSB is facing is to compromise the well being of the animal based on the pressure of some of the “public’s” opinion.
    If they cave to public opinion, this WILL compromise the integrity of the process, the integrity of the Board and the well being of our animals. This is one case where reality has to trump perception.

    One of the primary problems that the Agreement created is that it has created the “perception” that HSUS is a stakeholder in the process.
    They are NOT. They are not animal scientist, consumer advocates nor livestock producers. They are MARKETERS! By giving them a place “at the table” only provides them the appearance of validity and a venue to have free publicity for their anti-livestock strategy.

  11. darwin says:

    HSUS at the table? Why? they are a LOBBYING group whose objective ( no matter what the fearless vegan leader says) is to eliminate animal agriculture. . send them packing.. call their bluff.. their constant whining and threatening to pull out the 500,000 “signatures”?? tell them to have at it.. go for it.. my bet is that MANY people in Ohio now have a better picture of what the HSUS is trying to achieve.. and it ain’t pretty for farmers/ranchers OR consumers.. or even animals..
    When i was little and ineffective I at at the “kiddie” table .. that is where the HSUS should be.. in another room at the kiddie table.. playing with toy animals and eating veggies.. hey folks.. that is NOT the real world..
    Friends Don’t Let Friends Donate to the HSUS..

  12. openforum says:

    I find it difficult to understand how HSUS can enjoy “charitable organization” status under the IRS definition of that term. Certainly, their mission is to improve conditions for animals, so they meet that criterion. But there is the issue of whether or not a charitable organization can meddle in politics.

    To me, it seems clear that HSUS is meddling in the politics of Ohio and other states. It occurs to me that Ohio might ask the IRS to have a look at the actions of HSUS. How much charitable work is HSUS doing, and how much political?

  13. openforum says:

    For more information, see page 21 of the following IRS publication:

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf

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