I recently attended a meeting where a representative of the Farm Bureau made a 20-minute Power Point presentation arguing that without Issue 2, Ohio agriculture will be threatened by outside animal rights activists that will put thousands of Ohio family farmers out of business.
What he didn’t say was Issue 2 is a Constitutional amendment that establishes a livestock care board appointed by the governor to codify animal treatment on farms.
He also failed to say that the governor, Ohio Department of Agriculture and the legislature already have all the power they need to make regulations about how animals are treated on farms.
The problem is a legislative process requires citizen input and public hearings. A board appointed through a Constitutional amendment has no such public oversight.
Why a Constitutional amendment? People are beginning to learn about treatment practices of growing animals for human consumption that are unnecessarily cruel and produce animal products that can be unsafe to eat.
The Humane Society of the United States has proposed legislation in some states that phase out three of these practices: gestation crates for sows, fattening stalls for veal, and chicken cages so small they cannot open their wings.
Rather than opening a discussion to educate us about the “safety and efficiency” of industrial farm methods, agribusiness is taking a pre-emptive measure (cloaking it in the words of “family farms” and “local food”) to protect their industrial methods.
The gentleman from the Farm Bureau even went so far as to say that caged birds are actually better off than free-range birds because they are protected from predators, dirt and disease.
This is the kind of “expert” thinking that will be enshrined in this appointed panel to regulate how animals can be treated.
The Farm Bureau is spending millions to scare farmers into thinking this amendment will protect them from outside agitators who plan to come to Ohio and make us all become vegans.
Fortunately, those of us who want choice to buy meat that has been raised humanely are now organizing to defeat this measure. There is a Web site — www.ohioact.org — with more information.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has been promoting CAFOs since Director Daley invited the German factory farmer, Anton Pohlman, to set up Buckeye Eggs in the 1990s. Now, there are close to 200 CAFOs permitted through the Ohio EPA in our state.
Animal treatment in these kinds of facilities is only one of the issues. Pollution from waste lagoons, flies, antibiotic use, disease and many environmental disasters have been documented by the Centers for Disease Control.
Yet these are the kinds of facilities that produce our meat and the money to support the Issue 2 campaign. The Farm Bureau believes these kinds of farms are the future of farming in Ohio.
There can be a different future for farming in Ohio, but only if we are vigilant and aware of what we are up against as we try to rebuild a sustainable farming community.