UPDATE: 11:56 a.m. 6/25: Ohio Senate unanimously votes (32-0) in favor of placing the initiative on the ballot.
(The following was provided by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.)
COLUMBUS — Ohio farm families today (June 24) joined lawmakers in support of a measure that would help ensure animal well-being, consumer choice and the availability of Ohio-grown food.
The Ohio House and Senate agriculture committees passed joint resolutions that would allow Ohio to create a Livestock Care Standards Board that would oversee decisions about how farm animals are raised.
The Ohio House later approved the resolution by a vote of 84-13.
Passage of the resolution would put the measure before voters in November.
“Animal care is a top priority for Ohio farmers — it’s the right thing to do and it keeps our animals safe, healthy and disease-free,” said Bob Peterson, a Fayette County farmer and an Ohio Farm Bureau state trustee, during Senate testimony.
“Ohio’s livestock and poultry farmers recognize that we must do more than what is expected of us and that our consumers deserve to be reassured that their food is produced responsibly and animals are well cared for.”
Kim Davis, a Carroll County farmer and Ohio Farm Bureau trustee, told House lawmakers that the board would “help Ohio farmers continue to provide excellent care for our animals, while also ensuring safe, affordable and locally raised food.”
The board will include a broad base of experts in livestock and poultry care, including family farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, members of statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and members representing Ohio consumers.
After the board was announced, HSUS threatened to launch a $10 million campaign in Ohio to illegalize certain farm practices, according to an Associated Press article.
However, the animal rights group faced tough questions during the hearings. One lawmaker characterized its effort as “disingenuous” and said HSUS has threatened the citizen initiative process by buying its way onto the ballot in other states.
Another questioned the group’s ties to local humane societies, and as to why HSUS would be opposed to a board intended to allow thoughtful consideration of animal care issues and to keep decisions about Ohio’s food supply in the hands of experts.
“We believe that any individual or organization who is truly interested in the well-being and care of Ohio’s livestock and poultry will join us in supporting (the resolution), which will ensure that this debate is kept current and open to public input,” Peterson said.