Voters spoke loud and clear in November when they passed Issue 2 — a constitutional amendment to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
The bill was introduced by Reps. Linda Bolon, D-Columbiana, and Allan R. Sayre, D-Dover (Harrison, Tuscarawas and Belmont counties), and the first hearing was held in the agriculture committee Jan. 20.
The bill was scheduled for a proponent hearing Jan. 27 and an opponent hearing is expected soon after, but an exact date has not been set. Bolon said more hearings could be scheduled before a vote is taken in the House. Then, if passed, the bill will move to the agriculture committee in the senate.
Bolon said this legislation is very important to the farming industry in Ohio, and defines “livestock” as equines, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, alpacas and llamas.
The bill also gives deadlines for appointees to the board and outlines how long a term will last on the board. In addition, it gives a draft plan of the fees being implemented on bulk feed dealers to pay for the investigations and other costs related to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
The proposed legislation calls for $500,000 to be raised through a fee assessed on bulk livestock feed. The money will be raised through either a minimum $50 fee to be paid to the director of agriculture at the semiannual inspection, or the ton fee.
The fee will pay for the annual operations of the 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, including the salaries of an executive director and employees, according to the legislation.
The legislation asks that a fee of 30 cents per ton be levied on the feed distributor when the amendment becomes effective through June 30. The price increases to 35 cents per beginning July 1 and lasts through June 30, 2011. As the bill currently stands, the rate increases to 40 cents per ton July 1, 2011.
Keith Stimpert, Ohio Farm Bureau senior vice president of public policy, said the fee already exists at 25 cents per ton and is widely distributed.
Stimpert added that the fee proposed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture has merit, but the Ohio Farm Bureau is open to other funding ideas, including the use of general funds.
One of the questions that still needs to be answered, Stimpert said, is how much money is needed to fund the board and what can be done at the ODA to use what resources already exist.
“We are going to need a program worthy of consumers’ confidence and that serves Ohio’s farmers,” Stimpert said.
— Defines “livestock” as equine animals, regardless of the purpose for which the equine are raised; porcine, bovine, caprine and ovine animals; poultry; alpaca and llamas.
— Requires the appointment of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board within 45 days of the bill’s effective date and establishes board member provisions such as terms of office, vacancies, meetings and compensation.
— Reiterates Issue 2’s language regarding the purpose of the board.
— Directs the board to adopt rules regarding civil penalties for violating care standards.
— Establishes duties of the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture for assisting the board and grants authority to the director and his/her representative to enter property for inspection and investigation.
— Prohibits anyone from providing false information in response to the livestock care standard requirements, or otherwise violating the rules developed by the board.
— Creates an Ohio livestock care standards fund and authorizes the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to use the fund for program administration and enforcement.
— Increases the commercial feed and seed inspection fee by 15 cents over the next three years, in 5-cent increments per year to 30, 35 and 40 cents per ton.
— States that the law does not affect the authority of county humane societies or officials.
— Clarifies that the law does not apply to food processing production activities regulated under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1717.
Source: The Ohio State University Extension