REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The state’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review advanced additional standards on livestock care during a hearing held July 11.
The rule package originally included standards for veal, dairy, beef, swine, layers, poultry, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and equine — approved in April by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
But the layer hen standards, and the veal standards, have both been temporarily pulled from consideration. Members of the layer subcommittee wanted the layer standards removed, to re-evaluate the definition of “existing farms” and any exemptions such farms should receive.
Veal standards were ultimately pulled, after a Burbank, Ohio, veal farmer and some of the JCARR members raised questions about how the proposed standards might affect the state’s veal industry, and welfare of veal calves.
“Everything was approved that was submitted,” said Andy Ware, communications director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “There were a number of questions about the veal standards and in response to that, the department pulled those rules for now.”
The farmer who challenged the new rules, Bob Cochrell, also is a member of the veal subcommittee. In written and oral comments, he suggested the new veal rules would be “unreasonable” or “unlawful,” violating three of the four requirements JCARR must consider when deciding if a new rule is acceptable.
Cochrell provided a lengthy and detailed explanation of the charges, basically centered on concerns he has that the current rules were made to satisfy animal rights interests, and not the interest of the veal calves, or the 30-plus farmers who said they’ll cease to raise veal if the new rules become law.
Cochrell claims some details of the standards, like deadlines to transition to group housing, were set to satisfy “the agreement” made in June 2010 with the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio’s commodity groups. The Ohio Veal Association was not included when the agreement was made.
“It is my contention that the OLCSB has been dramatically influenced during their deliberations by outside, special interest groups that came to a closed door ‘agreement’ on June 30, 2010,” he told JCARR.
He cites as proof, a care board meeting held in November, when the veal subcommittee presented its recommendations on veal treatment, while at the same time, department of agriculture staff presented an “alternate” set of recommendations, that, according to Cochrell, “mirrors that of the special interest group’s ‘agreement.'”
Cochrell and his supporters on the veal subcommittee argue an “arbitrary” transition to group housing will be worse for the calves, and their bottom lines as independent veal producers.
But the veal subcommittee chairman, Gaylord Barkman, supports group housing as a viable option and has told the care board, group housing has proven successful for his company — Buckeye Veal Services.
Ware said the questions will be reviewed and the department will provide “a more thorough briefing” on the veal standards. The board intends to re-submit the veal standards to JCARR at the July 19 board meeting, he said.