OLCSB approaches last meeting of 2010

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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will meet for the final time of the year on Dec. 7, where it will continue discussion of species-specific standards. And it will welcome at least one new guest in the crowd — the state’s next director of agriculture, Jim Zehringer.

The director-elect said he wants to become more acquainted with the board’s work, and is planning to attend the next two meetings.

For the last couple months, the board has deliberated acceptable ways to raise veal calves — primarily on the issue of whether to tether (tie them by their necks) or require housing that allows them to be grouped together, or turn around.

While recognizing arguments for both practices, current Ohio Agriculture Director Robert Boggs, who also is the board’s chairman, says a decision needs made.

Veal’s future

At the Nov. 4 meeting, he said Ohio’s veal industry will hurt its own image and market, if it doesn’t decide on what it’s going to do.

“The veal industry itself is driving itself out of business,” he said.

Gaylord Barkman, one of the state’s top veal producers from Buckeye Veal, said he’s doing well with group housing and encourages that method. But other veal farmers have repeatedly argued the change will decrease the health of their calves, and become a significant financial barrier.

Some producers and board members say what is best for the animals and the agriculture industry is not always what the public perceives, particularly if those perceptions are based on what consumer activist organizations promote.

Everything at stake

If the wrong decision is made, “We could take every veal producer out of production in this state,” said Jeff Wuebker, a livestock producer and board member from Van Wert.

He’s concerned about the time frame for enacting a ban on tethering (2017), and whether Ohio would be outlawing a proven production practice other states may allow to continue.

“It will be tough for us to take away things from the veal industry and Ohio’s farmers that may not be taken away in other states,” he said.

Big-name organizations like American Veal Association and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, as well as the agreement reached between the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio’s farm groups all call for a phase-out of veal tethering by the close of 2017.

To not satisfy these groups — namely HSUS — could potentially trigger a ballot initiative. HSUS says it has the needed signatures, though they have not been confirmed by state officials.

Zehringer said he’s still learning about the agreement.

“The agreement was made by a previous administration and our priority is not out-of-state activists,” he said. “Our priority is ensuring that Ohio agriculture continues to being a viable economic driver for our state.”

The Kasich administration is about creating and maintaining jobs, he said, saying “we need agriculture to lead us out of this recession.”

Board’s credibility

Boggs reminded the board that, while it is not required to follow the agreement “lock, stock and barrel,” making significant changes will carry consequences.

“I believe that those groups who have the responsibility to advocate and to protect livestock in Ohio have all unanimously agreed to the recommendation that came before us,” he said.

“For us to say that we should totally ignore that and ignore the public, which expects us to lead the effort of getting standards into place here in Ohio, instead of just making them minimal or (status quo), I think it’s going to lead us to some problems. I think we’re going to lose credibility, I think we’re going to lose some effectiveness.”

Some board members, like dairy farmer Leon Weaver, feel changes in the industry are coming, whether it’s now or in a few years.

“The change is coming,” he said. “We can choose to wreck that change or we can choose to observe it.”

The board will potentially vote on its handling of disabled livestock document at the next meeting.

Although veal standards appear mostly complete, several board members have indicated they want to wait before approving them, to weigh other species standards before veal standards become final.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

3 Comments

  1. FFA'73 says:

    Wow! Board Credibility?
    You have to ask yourself, Is Dir. Boggs representing Ohio Agriculture or HSUS?
    The OLCSB is a “stand alone enity”. It is not a part of ODA. True, the Director and State Vet. serve on the Board and the LCSB is “housed” at ODA. But the Board and its committee structure are independant.

    So how does ODA get away with submitting an “Altenative Recommendation” in writing to the OLCSB on veal, subverting the unanimous recommendation of the Veal subcommittee that deliberated for 3 months?

    To this day, the OLCSB has not publicly reviewed or discussed the unanimous recommendation of the Veal subcommittee, just the ODA’s “Alternate Recommendation”. At the 11-2 Board meeting, Dir. Boggs stated that “any future dicussions or deliberations by the Board on Veal, would NOT include the Veal subcommittee”. Anybody else see an agenda here?
    At the 11-16 LCSB, they unanimously approved the statement: “That the Standards / Concepts must benefit calves and not harm Ohio farm Families”. Dir. Boggs is wrong, the veal industry isn’t driving itself out of business. It is political bureaucrats like Dir. Boggs that attempt to influence the outcome based on perception rather than what is best for the animal that will drive animal agriculture out of Ohio to bordering states.

    Wake up Ohio livestock farmers. What happens to Veal will eventually impact you. No tethers? Your next dairy: Comfort stalls, stanchions and calf hutches. Group pens for “socialization”. Tell that to Select Sires. You will not be able to have one horse or goat, you will need two.
    There ought to be 50 farmers showing up at OLCSB meeting to observe the process and voice their concerns. Instead there are more anti-livestock group staff members than farmers. Yes, I know, we are too busy. Well, now is the time. If Dir. Boggs has his way, you won’t be so busy with your animals in the near future; at least not in Ohio.

  2. FarmerHaley says:

    Ohioans overwhelmingly supported the passage of State Issue 2 in November of 2009. It had the broad support from farmers, farm groups, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, the American Welfare Association, several local humane societies and several more.

    These groups supported this board because it was designed to increase the level of animal welfare in our state by examining science based research. This means that the board should not be influenced from lobbyist from either side of the issue, or even be concerned with agreements that where made between those groups if the research shows those suggestions would result in poorer animal welfare.

    I am appalled by Director Bogg’s comments that there should be more weight placed on suggestions from Ohio agriculture groups or the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). I understand that they came to an agreement, but I believe that we need to place the most emphasis on making sure that animals raised for food are cared for in the best manner possible. We will not arrive at the correct outcome if Boggs continually asks the board to ignore science and not to pay attention to any recommendations but those that was proposed by his office.

    Status quo or a revolution in the way we care for our livestock, its best we make sure we look at all the available research before making a decision.

  3. Down with the HSUS! says:

    The HSUS has one goal and that is to end all animal ownership, period. That includes everything from Exotics to cows. People need to wake up and kick them out of the state. Also the state of Ohio and the Federal Government need to revoke their tax exempt non-profit status along with making them pay back taxes. They pay their CEO and many other top level members over bloated salaries from the tax free donations they get from the people.

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