COLUMBUS — Producers and state officials had heard it was coming. Now, it’s official: The Humane Society of the United States launched a counterattack on Ohio Jan. 27.
Ohioans for Humane Farms, backed by HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, submitted a petition — including signatures from Ohio voters in 48 counties — to Ohio’s Secretary of State in support of placing an anti-cruelty measure on the November ballot.
However, according to Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State, the procedure is not that simple.
The petition is actually still with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The official will decide if the petition has a fair and truthful statement before it can go any further.
The petition was filed Jan. 27 and the attorney general’s office has until Feb. 5 to make the decision.
If approved, the petition will make its way back to the secretary of state’s office where the ballot board will convene and vote on it. Then, the group can begin collecting signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot.
The group contends it will seek to collect more than 600,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters.
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.
Mike Bumgarner, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation vice president, Center for Food and Animal Issues, said the filing was not a shock.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” Bumgarner said.
He described the announcement as a perfect example of an activist group trying to tell a group what to do. He added they aren’t happy unless they get their way.
“We are disappointed because they aren’t even giving the system a chance. They need to let the board develop and get to work. It is what the people voted for and now we need a chance to develop the process and figure out how to handle situations. That’s what the people voted for,” Bumgarner said.
Bumgarner said the process the people endorsed is under way and the legislature is working on the authorizing legislation.
“Once we get it completed, it will help to establish a safe food supply and reinforce consumer confidence,” Bumgarner said.
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.
Bumgarner said 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.