Veal farmers react to care board’s vote, industry’s future

Photo: Veal farmer David Troyer speaks to the care board alongside his sons at the April 5 meeting.

Note: To read more about the vote, see our first story by clicking here.

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — A Sugarcreek veal farmer and his sons are among a host of farmers in Ohio who will be spending the next few months figuring out what new regulations mean for their farm.

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted unanimously at its April 5 meeting to allow veal calves of all ages to be able to turn around after 2017.

It will mean a new system for farmers like David Troyer and his sons, who currently use conventional, non-turn-around stalls.

“The way we’ve got the calves right now, in individual stalls, is the best way to raise the veal,” he said. “It’s better for the calves and it’s more profitable for us.”

Troyer, his wife, and two of his sons attended the meeting in Reynoldsburg and asked the board to take its time making decisions, and be mindful of how new regulations will impact Ohio family farms.

Generations

His sons are the sixth generation of family farmers, and he’d like to see more.

“We’d like to stay in this state,” he said, “(but) if there are too many regulations put on us, I’ll let the boys or the next generation decide what they want to do.”

Troyer is not the only farmer who faces change. A petition presented during a February meeting showed more than 30 veal farmers were faced with ending production, or moving to another state, if the care board enacts the standards it’s considering.

More time

The signees reportedly represent half of Ohio’s veal production.

At the recent meeting, board member Dominic Marchese moved to extend the turn-around requirement to June 30, 2020, giving veal farmers 30 additional months to adjust to the new system. He argued that other species were given more time for their phaseout, and veal should be, too.

The phaseout dates were determined by the dates found in the agreement Ohio’s farm groups made with Humane Society of the United States. But Marchese said veal farmers, unlike poultry, swine and dairy, were not included when it was made.

“We’re not really helping these family farm veal producers,” he said after the meeting. “The larger veal producers, (some) not even residing or living on the farm will end up controlling the market when these smaller people give it up.”

Board member Jerry Lahmers, a farmer and veterinarian, was the only other member to support the extension.

“Tethering and narrow stalls are not the culprit some people tend to make them out to be,” he said, further adding that the 2017 date was a “recommendation” of American Veal Association, not a legal requirement.

In contrast, standards set by the Ohio care board “are required,” he said.

“I feel that we need to give them a little more time in the state of Ohio,” Lahmers said. “They (AVA) saw fit to give them 10 years back in 2007; why can’t we see fit to give them nearly 10 years in 2011.”

Individual farms

Loss of individually owned and operated veal farms has been a major concern among producers, especially those who signed the petition. Many of them attended the March 1 meeting to express concerns over converting existing barns, or going out of business.

With the turn-around language reinserted, Marchese supported adding a little more time so farmers could adjust.

“What was it going to hurt, if we can safeguard a farm from going out of business,” he said.

What stood to be hurt, he explained, were the terms of the agreement with HSUS, and the 2017 recommendation by AVA. He argued the board should have done what was best for veal farmers, and not for the politics of the agreement.

Veal’s future

Noticeably absent from the call for more time was the voice of the veal subcommittee chairman, Gaylord Barkman.

He said all along that he and his producers are successful with group housing. There’s definitely a cost to convert, and production costs go up, he explained. But he views turn-around housing as veal’s future, if it’s going to have one.

“If we can have a positive model for the consumer to put out and be more proactive, we can engage the consumer,” he said. “We just have a hard time getting a positive message out with a chain around their (calves’) neck.”

Barkman said it takes time and understanding to adjust to a new system, but he feels more producers and the care board are seeing it as the way forward.

Farmers thinking about moving to other states should first look where they’re going, and whether it will be any better.

“Look on both sides of Ohio’s borders,” he said, because he sees turn-around housing becoming the reality.

Board member Leon Weaver suggested someone conduct an economic study documenting the changes in veal housing in Ohio and surrounding states.

“Citizens, consumers and producers of Ohio and calves in Ohio will not have benefited one iota,” he said, and “some will be harmed,” if calves end up being moved to non-turn-around stalls in another state.

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

8 Comments

  1. Clyde Nehrenz says:

    Mark one up for the radical Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); one down for the cringing, weak-kneed, spineless members of the voter – created Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

    Why do the members bother taking time and money to meet? Why not save time and money by just asking the HSUS to write up the standards and send them to the board for its stamp of approval.

    This board is turning out to be more than simply a disappointment. It’s disgusting.

    • mary gibson says:

      No one should have had to force veal farmers to be humane, it does not speak well for the industry. Animals are not ball bearings, perhaps this good sized farmer could be put in a crate and see what it is like. Shame, sir, shame.

      • FFA 73 says:

        Is it “humane” that more calves will die in a group pen?
        Is it “humane” that there will be more calves that get sick in a group pen?
        Is it “humane” that more anitbiotics will be required for calves in a group pen?
        Is it “humane” that humans like yourself are quick to judge a person without knowing them?

        When these veal farmers are no longer caring for these unwanted Holstein bulls, who is going to care for them? Are you?

        Thankfully, you are not the “ultimate” authority, Mary.

        Unfortunately, the LCSB capitulated to your “perceptions” and the animals will be the losers.

      • FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

        Veal farmers ARE humane-Mary. How many calves have you raised that you are more of an authority than farmers who raise thousands of calves per year???ALL-repeat ALL non-biased studies prove that individually tied calves are healtlhier and less stressed than group raised calves. You have the audacity to attack this farmer because your opinion is different than his…many of us have different opinions than you-but we have politely restrained ourselves from attacking you when you spout off about the poultry farm next door..shame on YOU.

  2. FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

    The Livestock Careboard has turned into a monster that is out of control. NONE-absolutely NONE of their regulations have been based on science-OR consider the welfare of farmers-something that was supposedly paramount to what they were created for. This latest decision goes beyond that and shows an outright ATTACK on the ones they were to protect-farmers. Also, their decision actually JEOPARDISES the food safety of consumers…if they HAD actually read the scientific studies, they would have seen that SEVERAL of these studies showed increased bacterial contamination from loose calf practices which leads to increased risk of food-borne illness. When you consider that raw milk is illegal to sell because of increased health risk, it is unbelievable that they have made these regulations-based on food safety alone.

    The actions of Barkman are truely criminal-he has the audacity to use this vote to further his OWN PERSONAL GAIN-it is extremely obvious that he will DIRECTLY PROFIT by this vote-eliminating half the veal producers in the state so that he can get a larger market share. The argument that the regulations would promote more consumption of veal first of all has NO place to even be considered-promotion of products WAS NOT why the livestock careboard was formed or what it was expected to do; secondly, the marketing of veal has been a pathetically ineffective disaster-most people consider veal a “mystery” and have no clue what it is-or how to cook it, and others that have been brainwashed by the animal rights goons (such as the ones present at the meetings) will NEVER eat veal-no matter how “humane” husbandry practices are used. The veal association has allowed the AR goons to attack them and have failed to do what they should of-file charges against the AR groups that have defamed them. They OUTRIGHT STUPIDLY think that raising calves differently would result in increased sales.

    Fellow farmers-it is time to wake up and realize that this careboard has turned against us farmers and is now attacking us. We need to start to think about filing lawsuits against them and individuals such as Barkman-that have corruptly used their vote to further their own personal gains instead of what they were set up to do. We also need to include that we are not being adquately reimbursed as required by eminent domain laws.

    And finally-for all you non-farmers…this is the start of state run farms that communism embraces. If this complete invasion is not stopped, you WILL SEE food shortages and EXTREMELY high priced food in the future. This complete animal rights movement was orchestrated years ago by the communist party as part of a take-over movement that uses brainwashing (indoctrination) instead of force….dont beleive me?? Look it up-the socialist party (a friendlier name of communist) has an outline of animal farming-just coincidentally word for word the same as HSUS. (and also what so called “sustainable” farmers embrace) Sadly, it will take true hunger to make many of you realize just how fortunate this country had been-and how us farmers were NOT the evil that these animal rights goons had made us out to be.

  3. Clyde Nehrenz says:

    Another question is, how did Governor Kasich’s director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture James J. Zehringer vote?

    Did he vote to do the will of the fanatical leaders of an out-of-state anti-farm organization, the goal of which is to make the cost of all animal products so high for the citizen of Ohio that they will be inclined to adopt a vegan life style? Or did he resist the intimidation of these fanatics and vote for the citizens of Ohio who elected the governor?

    Will governor Kasich turn out to be yet another Republican like those who win election running on a conservative platform and begin acting like a Democrat as soon as they take office?

    Is he headed that way already with his pick for director of the Department of Agriculture?

  4. Clyde Nehrenz says:

    Rereading the article I see I failed to note that the vote was unanimous, which means that Gov. Kasich’s man,
    James J. Zehringer, did in fact vote against the interests of Ohioans to satisfy the interests of the leaders of an out-of-state anti-Ohio voter fringe group.

  5. okiestorm1 says:

    This is not gana get people to eat more veal,if they don’t eat it now they won;t eat it later just because some say the calves are being treated better. I can’t even imagine what its like to takecare of 25 to 100 bottle calfs at one time. I do good takeing care and keeping the pen clean of just a couple at a time and I don;t eat mine i raise them up and use for breeding or to sale to otheres for meat or whatever.This is only started I am affraid, they are also telling us and our children that meat is not good for you to eat at all. Well got news for them, I will never become a vegan,I will always have my cows,goats,horse and chickens rather they like it or not! We got to stand up to these HSUS and VEGAN lovers, Time to take back our way of life and quite letting them tell us how to do our jobs! If nebraska can do it so can OHIO!

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