COLUMBUS — A brief gasp came across the agricultural industry Feb. 5, but it soon was replaced with a force to move forward.
The gasp came after the Ohio Attorney General’s office certified the proposed constitutional amendment filed Jan. 27 by the Ohioans for Humane Farms, which is a combination of the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary.
The petition included the signatures from Ohio voters in 48 counties in support of placing an anti-cruelty measure on the November ballot.
But before the secretary of state can put the measure on the November 2010 ballot, it had to go the attorney general’s office to determine if it is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law or constitutional amendment.
The decision was made Feb. 5 that it met the criteria and it now must go in front of the ballot board. The board will convene and vote on it. Then, the Ohioans for Humane Farms group can begin collecting signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot.
The group will need a total of 402,275 signatures of registered voters in Ohio, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
The group will need 10 percent of the total number that voted in the last governor’s election. The signatures will have to be from at least 44 of the 88 counties. In addition, the petition must include 5 percent of the total vote cast for the governor in that county during the last gubernatorial election. The petitions will have to be completed and back to the secretary of state 125 days prior to the November election.
Seek minimum standards
The measure proposed by the Ohioans for Humane Farms would ask voters to require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt certain minimum standards.
• End confinement for veal calves, breeding pigs and chickens in what has been described by the Humane Society of the United States as “tiny cages.”
• Stop “downer cows” or animals too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own from entering the human food chain.
• Establish regulations for the euthanasia of sick and injured animals.
Mike Bumgarner, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation vice president, Center for Food and Animal Issues, told Farm and Dairy previously the “downer cow” request is only propaganda to work on human emotions because there is already a federal regulation that does not allow “downer cows” into the food supply.
The petition language said the board would have six years to implement these minimum standards, allowing producers time to transition to what is being described as more humane systems.
According to a news release, if the measure is enacted, the Ohioans for Humane Farms group hopes that the livestock board would immediately adopt minimum standards that address euthanasia and downer animals.