On Aug. 1, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review permitted the final two proposed Ohio livestock care standards, layer hens and veal, to become rule in Ohio. So, it is over. Or is it?
Several members of JCARR expressed their concern with the negative “unintended consequences” this rule will impose on the independent veal farmers in Ohio. These legislators pledged their support to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Farm Bureau in finding ways to assist these family veal farmers to minimize the negative impact this rule will have on their farms.
In 2009, Ohio voters stated they wanted “minimum standards” for livestock care established by objective, measurable criteria. But the ODA stated at the July 11 JCARR hearing that “Ohio seeks to have the most progressive standard in the nation.”
Sen. LaRose then asked the state veterinarian, “you mean to tell me that we will be so ‘progressive’ that we will drive one-half of the veal production out of Ohio?”
Some question if veal farmers were singled out. Here are the facts:
The veal community was not involved in the “Buckeye Compromise.”
Under the adopted standards: – A Holstein bull destined for a veal market may never be tethered.
— A Holstein bull (heifer or cow) in a dairy operation may be tethered for an indeterminate length of time.
— A Holstein bull or steer in a beef operation may be tethered for an indeterminate length of time.
— Any dairy farmer must never tether a bull calf prior to sending that calf to market, as that bull calf is destined to a veal market. He may tether that calf if it is going to a beef or dairy market.
— Veal calves must be able to ‘turn around’ at all times when no other species or class of bovine is required to.
— Veal calves must be in a group pen when no other species or class of bovine is required to.
— Other species and classes of bovine include “prohibit excessive competition” and veal does not. (Group pens are proven to increase competition.)
— Veal farmers have until 2017 to make a conversion, gestation stalls have until 2025, and existing layer facilities have no deadline.
This rule is not just an “inconvenience” for the independent veal farmers in Ohio, which represent over one-half of the production in Ohio. They have said that they do not anticipate continuing to raise veal Ohio after 2017. Their other option is to become “feeders” for large, integrated entities that own the animals.
The 800-pound gorilla is still in the room. HSUS and their allies are not going away; they will be back for more. Then what is the Ohio ag community going to do? What are you going to do when it is your turn?
It is not over. It has just started. To quote a recent OFB article, “What is the better way forward?” Because this one is not working.
(The author farms in northern Wayne County. For the past year, he has served on the OLCSB veal subcommittee.)