Ohio Farm Bureau launches new Center for Food and Animal Issues

SALEM, Ohio — A new initiative of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will help farmers and the public sort through the debate about the role of animals in society.

The newly launched Center for Food and Animal Issues will operate as an outreach and education department of the state Farm Bureau, according to executive vice president Jack Fisher.

“We’ve got to engage in public education and information about the importance of all animals in society and the contributions they make,” Fisher said.

“The bottom line is that animals are an integral and helpful part to society, but people come first, animals second,” he said.

Impetus

The spark for the center’s formation came as, over the past couple of years, the state organization’s staff and board of trustees followed pork, poultry and veal housing debates in states like Florida, Arizona and, most recently, California’s Proposition 2.

Voters passed the California ballot issue in November and, by doing so, banned the use of gestation crates, veal crates and laying hen cages statewide. The debates and successful ballot issues were backed mainly by the Humane Society of the United States.

“Animal rights activists are very accomplished at manipulating public opinion,” Fisher said. “They make what sound like simple demands regarding animals when in reality their true goal is to give animals status equal to humans.”

Earlier this year, HSUS approached state Farm Bureau leaders for a meeting to discuss bringing similar measures to the Buckeye State.

“It’s evident that issues relative to the industry are being attacked, and that means it’s time to ramp up education and information and overall [public relations] about how and why we do things in animal ag,” Fisher said.

Fisher noted that besides helping guide educational efforts in Ohio, the center will also serve as a model for other states and for national agricultural organizations in their work to help the public understand the uses for animals in society, how food is produced, and the general workings of the food chain.

Goals

The center will engage groups with different philosophical viewpoints, including farmers, consumers, pet and horse owners, medical researchers, sportsmen and hunters, aquariums, zoos and their supporters, hunger advocates and local animal welfare organizations.

“Ultimately, our goal is to assure that people who rely on animals, either physically, emotionally or economically, have the right to do so,” Fisher said.

“We’ve got to elevate the issues so consumers still have choices to make and so that we as farmers can continue to provide animal protein,” he said.

Values

Among values backed by the center are the beliefs that people should remain free to choose what is the proper use of animals, that all animals should be treated humanely and that decisions about animal care should be made by appropriate parties.

A subsidiary of the center will be the Animals for Life Foundation, which will focus on fundraising efforts to support the center’s mission.

Structure

The center will be housed in Columbus at the Farm Bureau headquarters. Initial plans are to have the center staffed by three to six people; interviews are currently under way for a vice president to head up the center, Fisher said.

Center staff will be heavily involved in communications and public relations, but will also research possible areas of regulation and litigation and work with the Farm Bureau’s policy department to stay on top of animal agriculture issues in the state.

No comment was made as to the center’s operating budget.

About the Author

Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009. More Stories by Andrea Zippay

9 Comments

  1. This is fantastic. At last, a farm organization that “gets it.” I keep telling our local farmers that all they have to do is substitute their specific farm animals for “cats and dogs” in the intact animal/limits/sales laws the animal rights activists- notably the Humane Society of the US- are getting introduced into legislation, and they don’t seem to understand where these potential- or passed- regulations are leading. I am working to educate them to the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. I have multiple articles on the subject, as well as considerable information on the goals of HSUS- contrary to their website agenda. Please let me know if I can provide you with anything that might fill the gaps.
    Sincerely,
    Joan Bernstein
    Paumanok Preserves
    NYSFB; LIFB; Pride of NY; NYSSSFPA
    Paumanok Cat Fanciers; Make Mine Mink Tonkinese Fanciers; Shotoku Cattery, CFA since 1978

  2. Andrew says:

    Thank you Farm Bureau for creating this Center. I hope it will even more, help mobilize the animal owning community across the board to keep our rights and our abilitiy to work with and enjoy our animals. Thank you~

  3. Judith says:

    Thanks Farm Bureau. I’m tired of people who have never been on a farm trying to tell me how my cows feel. I love my animals and work to care the best for them. We need someone out there to tell consumers, “hey don’t believe in that fear mongering and junk science.”

  4. Farmers have a responsibility to connect with the public and address their concerns.

    I think this is a great idea. Congrats on the new center!

  5. Amy Katz says:

    As soon as a group calls the HSUS animal rights activists you know they’re slinging more manure than you find in the fields

  6. Jarrod says:

    Wonderful news. Certainly hope this throws HSUS for a loop and can be successful in turning the thinking perpetuated by animal rights of “no more animals for pets or food”. People who do not farm need to know that decisions about our animals are based on facts – for the best care for the animals while in our possession. We are proud of the products we produce. If this works and HSUS does not try to destroy the effort, it should be implemented in every state in the USA. Proud of the Ohio farmer’s quick thinking to protect their livelihood.
    JP

  7. LA says:

    Aren’t you a little concerned how Ohio is turning into a industrial farming state? This board will move the family run Ohio farmers closer and closer to extinction. Many of Ohio farmers treat and love their animals fine….but not so industry giants.

  8. Always important to talk directly to the public. Kudos to Farm Bureau!

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