REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Before a standing-room-only crowd, members of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted unanimously to re-insert language that will require veal calves to be housed in turn-around facilities after 2017.
The board’s vote reverses a decision from its March 1 meeting that allowed veal calves to be housed in independent, non-turn-around stalls for the calves’ first 10 weeks.
The motion to re-insert the turn-around language was made by board member Jeff Wuebker, of Versailles. He was the same board member who asked for it to be taken out at the March meeting.
Wuebker based his motion on feedback the board had received from members of the veal subcommittee, who said the “turn around” language did not provide a significant advantage in production or economics, and requested it be re-insurted.
Board member Dominic Marchese said he supported reinserting the turn-around language “after hearing comments from veal subcommittee members that it really was not a help to them.”
The vote satisfied a host of public attendees who came dressed in special shirts that read “let them turn-around.”
“We were very pleased with the decision today,” said Karen Minton, Humane Society of the United States’ Ohio director.
Not alone. In addition to HSUS, some agricultural organizations also supported adoption of the turn-around language, including the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, and American Veal Association.
Several members of the Ohioans for Humane Farms, which led HSUS’ 2010 ballot initiative, expressed their appreciation to the board, for requiring calves of all ages to be able to turn around.
Marchese moved to amend the veal standard to allow veal farmers until 2020 — three more years — to phase out current housing practices. But the motion failed with only his, as well as and board member Jerry Lahmers, voting in favor.
He said he thought additional time would allow farmers to prepare economically, and would be more in line with the phaseout allowances given to swine and poultry farmers.
State Veterinarian Tony Forshey, who is a board member, said veal farmers shouldn’t have trouble making the conversion in time.
“The AVA and the OVMA have all adopted into the 2017 (agreement) and I personally feel that the (veal) conversion time in the next six years is ample time to do that,” he said.
Although the meeting drew a large crowd, officials kept business on track and most who spoke pledged their continued support of the board and its work.
“There are always going to be people who don’t agree with what we’ve done,” said Ohio Director of Agriculture James Zehringer, who chairs the livestock care board.
But he called the board’s work “giant steps” to give farmers security about the future of agriculture in Ohio.
“Things aren’t going to change in the middle of the road.”
The board’s next meeting is April 19, when members will review e-comments on the camelid (llama and alpaca) section, and review the final version of the equine standards. It must also vote on the final version to send to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, or JCARR.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which includes five state representatives and five state senators, will review each proposed rule to make sure it doesn’t conflict with another rule-making agency, or doesn’t exceed the scope of the OLCSB’s statutory authority.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture is already thinking ahead to the education that will be needed after the standards are finalized, according to Andy Ware, director of communications.
Plans are to develop a species-specific booklet that highlights specifics, and then focus on getting the information into key people’s hands, like veterinarians, Extension educators, Farm Bureau organization directors and commodity group leaders — the people livestock owners turn to when they have questions.