SALEM, Ohio — A plan to fund and implement Issue 2 is expected to be introduced by Ohio’s legislature by the end of January.
The legislature began its 2010 session the week of Jan. 11.
A draft of a plan to fund Issue 2, the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November, calls for a $500,000 increase in a fee assessed on bulk livestock feed.
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 a handful of employees, according to draft rules developed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agriculture organizations.
According to the draft plan, the state fee paid by commercial feed distributors, now 25 cents per ton of bulk feed sold, would increase incrementally over three years to 40 cents per ton.
Still on drawing board
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert J. Boggs said the department has been meeting with environmental and farm groups to sketch out the draft legislation.
“It’s a very deliberate process, what we are doing,” Boggs said.
He said he hopes the legislation is introduced the week of Jan. 20.
Boggs said voters were promised an active board and not just a paper trail.
“When the people voted, they were told we wouldn’t be a paper tiger. They wanted good enforcement and that will take some resources,” Boggs said.
How much needed?
What’s unclear is how much money is needed for the first year.
Boggs said since the board will be new to the state, it is difficult to gauge how much money will be needed to conduct investigations and provide enforcement programs.
“We would rather have enough resources from Day One and not have to go back to legislature and ask for more funding,” said Boggs.
Clock is ticking
Keith Stimpert, Ohio Farm Bureau senior vice president of public policy, also stressed that the plan for Issue 2 is still in the draft form, but lots of dialogue is taking place about it.
“Hopefully, the legislature will act fairly quickly once they start their session.”
He expects a hearing on the measure will begin in January.
Board will set standards. “One thing people need to understand is this will be a procedural bill,” Stimpert said.
Stimpert said the yet-to-be-introduced bill will set up how long terms will be, and outline the responsibilities of the board and the ODA. Once the governor and speaker make a appointments, then the group can get to work on establishing policies and livestock care practices. The legislation will not spell out what the livestock standards will include, those determinations will be originated by the board itself.
Meanwhile, Ohio is making a name for itself in the fight against the Humane Society of the United States, and states like Missouri are taking a lot of interest in what is going on here in Ohio.
The HSUS is circulating a statewide ballot initiative in Missouri that would establish new rules for dog breeders, but some in Missouri agriculture feel it’s a threat toward their business, as well.
Boggs traveled to Missouri Jan. 7 and 8 to talk with state leaders about the Ohio ballot initiative. He said Ohio is gaining national recognition for what was accomplished here and he expects other states may use the state as an example.