ASHLAND, Ohio — Just when livestock producers are finding ways to clear the murky waters of low commodity prices and high input prices, comes another deluge of challenges in the form of steep funding cuts to the Ohio State University Extension and assaults from theHumane Society of the United States.
Producers are being targeted by groups determined to either change the way animal agriculture does business or put it out of business altogether, according to John Fitzpatrick, organization director for Ashland/Medina/Wayne County Farm Bureaus.
Following a preview of a multimedia presentation, Veal Calves and Cull Cows, Fitzpatrick told producers and industry representatives attending the Ashland County Cattlemen’s annual meeting that the Humane Society of the United States has targeted Ohio as their next state to pass legislation similar to Proposition 2 that was passed in California.
Fitzpatrick told the cattlemen that the HSUS is not connected with the local humane society in any way.
All of agriculture needs to band together and tell its story to the public.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up on behalf of agriculture,” he said. “You need to be willing to speak to the media, we all need to tell the same story.”
He recommended the cattlemen contact the Ohio Livestock Coalition for copies of their discussion guide on modern animal agriculture. He also suggested they contact Ohio Farm Bureau to obtain their list of tips that were compiled to assist farmers in talking with the media.
Ag budget cuts. And if dealing with an anti-animal agriculture faction wasn’t bad enough, farmers are also facing the loss of resources provided by the Ohio State University Extension as it faces budget cuts, resulting in redistricting and reduction in staff.
Fitzpatrick asked the group to contact their legislators and urge them to continue to support extension at the county level.
Kim Edwards, Ashland County commissioner, concurred. “Agriculture is the number one business in the state of Ohio,” she said. “What happens when we take away the support programs for the industry? You need to contact your legislators and make your voices heard. We need to have the money flow down from the state to the county level.”
Ken Stitzlein, district representative on the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association board, gave the group an update on the state activities and programs.
One project that is getting under way is a feasibility study on the construction of a feedlot in southeastern Ohio on reclaimed strip mine ground. Stitzlein said the goal of the project is to create jobs and improve the income in the area, first through the construction phase and later permanent jobs at the feedlot.
He added that there is a packing plant interested in having a steady supply of cattle that have been fed and managed under the same conditions. Other components of the project would include a feed mill, anaerobic digester and shipping and receiving facility to handle the cattle.
Stitzlein also reported that Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association will be named to the Ohio State University’s Animal Science Department’s Hall of Fame.
The OCA’s annual Summer Round-Up will be held Aug. 29 in Hamilton County.
On a much brighter note, Jim Beattie accepted a donation on behalf of the Ashland County Cattlemen’s Association from Farm Credit Services of Mid-America to be used for promotional activities during the month of May, which is Beef Month.
Recipients of the 2009 scholarships presented in memory of Carl Stitzlein, a longtime supporter of both the county and state cattlemen’s groups, were Brooke Wesner, Kyle Nichols, and Christine Ritchie.
Elected as officers for 2009-2010 will be Jim Beattie, president; Willard Welch, vice president; and Phil Leibolt, secretary/treasurer.