Editor’s Note. Click here to review the full civil penalty document, which is available for public review and comment.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board should soon have a set of penalties to enforce its standards.
During a meeting Oct. 19, the board voted 7-1 in favor of creating civil penalties that address major and minor violations, and appropriate fines for each.
The opposing vote was cast by board member Jeff Wuebker, a swine farmer from Darke County. He said as a livestock producer, he still had concerns some of the language could be interpreted too broadly.
“Major violations,” according to the board, are actions that “place an animal’s life in imminent peril,” “cause protracted disfigurement,” “cause protracted impairment of health,” or “cause protracted loss or impairment of the function of a limb or bodily organ.”
“Minor violations” are those that occur due to neglect or unintentional acts of substandard practices, which do not meet the criteria of the major violations.
The penalties document authorizes the Ohio Department of Agriculture to assess a civil penalty of up to $500 for the first minor offense, and up to $1,000 for each subsequent minor offense.
Major offenders can be fined $1,000-$5,000 for a first-time offense, and $5,000-$10,000 for subsequent offenses.
The document also authorizes ODA to “assist the actions of state and local agencies and nongovernmental organizations to provide proper care for the animal,” in the event of a major offense.
This care includes feeding and watering the animal, providing medical care, taking possession, euthanizing and disposing of animals.
The process of assessing penalties begins with a determination by ODA that a violation has occurred, followed by notification of the person responsible for the animal, and details as to whether the action can be corrected, and a time for corrections to be complete.
Failure to make corrections on time can result in subsequent penalties, for each day the violation continues.
At the last care board meeting, a public comment asked why the board is creating civil penalties before its standards are in place.
Bill Hopper, chief legal counsel for ODA, said doing both at the same time ensures the standards are enforced.
“As a practical matter, if you don’t know what penalties are as these various stages of the process are passed and become rule, then you’re going to have a number of provisions with no enforcement capacity,” he said.
Director of Agriculture Robert Boggs, who is chairman of the care board, said its members continue to make strides in the right direction and noted “the proposed cicil penalty rules created today will strengthen every livestock care standard this board creates.”
The proposed civil penalties rules will follow the same law-making process as the euthanasia rules the board approved at its Oct. 5 meeting.
The penalties will be posted to the care board’s website and distributed through the E notification System for public comment.
The penalties also will be posted for a two-week period on the board’s website. Comments may be e-mailed to Ecomments@agri.ohio.gov.
After review of comments, and any necessary amendments to the penalties, the proposal will then be filed with Ohio’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.