Ohio voters overwhelmingly pass Issue 2, but HSUS plans its own ballot initiative


(note: This article was updated 11/6 with information about the HSUS ballot initiative.)

By Farm and Dairy Staff

SALEM, Ohio — In the Nov. 3 election, Ohio voters gave their approval to Issue 2, the ballot measure to amend the state constitution and create a livestock care standards board.

Ohio voters convincingly supported Issue 2, as 63.66% (or 1,959,669 people) voted to pass the measure, while 36.34% or 1,118,805 individuals, voted “no.”

Athens County was the lone county with a majority of voters opposing Issue 2.

The constitutional amendment will create a state Livestock Care Standards Board. The 13-member board, comprised mostly of farmers, veterinarians and agricultural industry leaders, will create and implement livestock care guidelines. (Click here for a .pdf of the constitutional amendment.)

The next step is for the Ohio General Assembly to create enabling legislation and the board appointments to be made.

Don’t count them out

Following the election, the Humane Society of the United States indicated it wants to move from Issue 2 to “real reform.”

“Now that the Issue 2 campaign is over, we can get on with such real reform — a measure to phase out the extreme confinement of animals in veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages,” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, said in a statement released after polls closed.

In his blog Nov. 4, Pacelle said the animal rights group would launch a ballot initiative in Ohio and will be starting its efforts to gather the necessary 400,000 signatures. He did not say what the initiative would seek, other than declaring the need to “reach voters in Ohio with our message of sound science and basic values.”

The recommended signature filing deadline for a statute on the November 2010 ballot is Dec. 23, 2009.

Paul Shapiro, senior director of HSUS’ factory farming campaign, also would not elaborate further, but said, “Issue 2 does not guarantee humane treatment of animals. It is more likely to codify the status quo, rather than to see continuous improvement in animal welfare.”

“What was happening yesterday before Issue 2 passed is happening today to animals,” Shapiro said.


The ballot measure was triggered by conversations between the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio ag leaders last February, in which the HSUS hoped to carve out a working relationship to develop livestock care standards like those negotiated in Colorado (and most recently in Michigan this fall). More specifically, HSUS said it wanted to ban the use of poultry cages, veal crates and gestation stalls in the Buckeye State.

If Ohio ag groups chose not to work with the HSUS, the activist group leaders said they would take the battle to legislators or work to pass a ballot initiative in 2010.

Ohio ag leaders, however, quickly moved to push the idea of a constitutional amendment to create the livestock care standards board, feeling the proactive approach would have a stronger ag foundation than that pushed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Ohio has spoken

Ohio Sen. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said he was excited about the margin of approval, calling it a sign that Ohioans believe in what the board will provide.

“I think the people of Ohio want to support family farms and agriculture and that’s great.”

Gibbs was the Senate’s lead sponsor of the bill, when the ballot initiative was moving through the legislature.

“As strong as this thing passed yesterday, I think consumers are showing they want to make sure we have locally grown food and the animals are cared for.”

Don’t count them out

Following the election, the Humane Society of the United States indicated it wants to move from Issue 2 to “real reform,” but did not specify what it’s next action will be.

“Now that the Issue 2 campaign is over, we can get on with such real reform — a measure to phase out the extreme confinement of animals in veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages,” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, said in the statement released Tuesday night.

Paul Shapiro, senior director of HSUS’ factory farming campaign, said the organization is keeping all of its options open and would not elaborate as to what the next plan of action is for the group.

“Issue 2 does not guarantee humane treatment of animals. It is more likely to codify the status quo, rather than to see continuous improvement in animal welfare,” Shapiro said.

“What was happening yesterday before Issue 2 passed is happening today to animals.”

Closing farm-city gap

With what could be the Ohio Farm Bureau’s largest political campaign now a part of history, OFB Director of Communications Joe Cornely figures it has helped increase public awareness of what farmers do, and why.

“It has made the public aware that farmers are passionate about their industry and that it’s not just a job, it’s a calling,” he said. “They want the public to understand how they approach the business of feeding the world.”

Those are some of the goals that went into Ohio Farm Bureau’s decision to form the Center for Food and Animal Issues, which was launched in the spring to help farmers and consumers reach conclusions about animals’ role in society and food production.

Regaining trust

Mike Bumgarner, vice president of the center, said the center is actually bigger than just Issue 2, but “Issue 2 is really the first step in trying to regain the public confidence” in production agriculture.

“Our hope is that it’s made people more aware of what production agriculture is all about and what we do,” he said.

Issue divided farmers

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, which also opposed Issue 2, is disappointed, but not surprised by the passage of Issue 2.

However, Carol Goland, executive director for OEFFA, said the organization was mainly against the issue because it amends the state constitution.

“Our hope is that we (Ohio voters) didn’t establish a precedent where agriculture is regulated by popular vote and constitutional amendments,” Goland said.

She’s also concerned that the issue has divided Ohio agriculture.

“We have heard from a lot of farmers about questions they have about the board,” Goland said.

Checks and balances

Although the bill progressed strategically and met the November election deadlines, Sen. Bob Gibbs said it improved along the way, including the addition of some checks and balances. For example, board appointees will need the state Senate’s confirmation, and actions of the board will still be subject to the authority of the Ohio General Assembly, he said.

It upsets him that some have called the board a bureaucracy.

“This board is not bureaucrats. Their stake is in the industry; their livelihoods are on the line,” he said.

Ohio Farm Bureau’s Cornely said he’d like to think animal rights organizations, such as Humane Society of the United States, will be satisfied with the reform the board brings about. But he’s prepared for the possibility they may not.

Cornely said it’s probable there will be some who try to “tear the board apart” for whatever it does.

“The facts are not going to get in the way of the opposition’s approach to this,” he said.

(Editor Susan Crowell, and reporters Chris Kick and Kristy Foster, all contributed to this report.)


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  1. This is sickening. Uninformed voters are lethal for animals. Way to go, Ohio. You just voted for the perpetuation of animal cruelty.

  2. Uninformed animal rightists who see cruelty in all aspects of animal use are the real problem.

    Farm animals do not produce if treated cruelly and kept in poor condition.

    Ohio voters had the wisdom to place animal husbandry under the guidance of those with hands-on experience instead of philosophers with a counter productive agenda.

  3. This is wonderful news! It’s great to see the voters of Ohio have proactively defended themselves against the Human Society of the United States. I trust the farmers of Ohio to take care of their animals, and clearly so do the people of Ohio!

  4. My thoughts exactly. It was the big factory farms who pushed this issue so they could get their people on the board and continue to do the same things to animals they have always done. And you can probably say goodbye to the small organic farms in Ohio as well. Great job Ohio, way to do your homework on an issue before you vote on it…

  5. Absolutely despise the voters that passed issue 2. Ignorance doesn’t make stuff not exist. Enjoy your veal and maybe get an education on what the animal’s life is like for you to have its meat pass your lips. Oh and btw, I do eat meat. Would like the human race to have a conscious. ‘Overwhelmingly pass’ ???????

  6. Agreed, KT.

    And tell me, Lumpe (fitting name), are Ohioans the only people to eat the results of Ohio’s cruelty to animals? I don’t think so.

  7. Issue 2 on the ballot was completely MISLEADING. I knew how I wanted to vote, but if the young man who was holding a sign and saying “Vote NO on Issue 2” was not outside of the voting venue, I wouldn’t have been sure. Shame on the corrupt bunch who got their wording on the ballot to confuse. They have not heard the last from those of us who want real reform. Go Humane Society!

  8. I am from Ohio and voted against issue 2. It didn’t pass by a landslide so you can’t blame all Ohioians. The way the issue was worded on the ballot misleading. I belive that most people didn’t do their homework before they voted. We just have to work harder to convince more people to become vegetarian or better yet vegan.

  9. While I am deeply saddened that Issue 2 passed, I despise all you self-rightous idiots that have written above thinking animals are being abused on our farms. Want to see cruelty? Look in nature. Animals eaten alive,ripped apart by carnivors, dying slow death due to disease, ect. Go tell GOD he is an animal abuser. NO ONE has aright to tell anyone how to raise their livestock-not anyone of you,PETA, HSUS, or sadly voted in-government. The world would be a much better place if people like you minded your own business and stopped forcing your beliefs on others, as we are not forcing ours on you. Our animals belong to us-not you or ANYONE else, and we have the right to raise them as we see fit.

    As to my fellow farmers who voted this in: Veterans day is next week. Many were killed in Vietnam to protect the world from Communist rule. How gravely sad it is that instead of fighting for our constitutional rights, you gave into a communist vote, essentially saying that government knows better than we how to raise our animals-which is the core signature for communism. You have voted in a proposal that many had died for to protect. There were many alternatives to protect our rights from being taken-tragically no others were considered. Next time an Ag related vote is up, PLEASE think about all aspects of it very carefully before voting. Remember- Hitler was voted in because German people were desperate, and they ended up with a monster. I feel this Issue 2 is a monster in disguise, and will come out in the future to haunt us all.

  10. This will be the end of family farms, not protection for it. This “board of experts” will usher in unbridled power to large scale “factory farms” and will make those of us trying to make an honest and humane living raising animals to compete in a market ruled now by one special interest. Way to go Ohio, you’ve destroyed the family farm with this.

  11. Susan, with all due respect, you have been mislead. Farm animals DO produce when treated cruelly, and often this is because the “production” is done by humans. The issue of reproduction aside, learn more about factory farming. I would suggest viewing videos from Mercy for Animals, and organization started by an Ohio farm boy, who saw the cruelty firsthand. Read the book Mad Cowboy. And just as a general comment, oftentimes, the motivation behind these kind of sweeping generalizations is the discomfort that comes with the thought of making major lifestyle changes, ie diet. Most of the people who have “hands-on” experience are putting four chickens to a small cage, where they can’t move and are in the dark most of the time (to save electricity). Is this really the experience we want to trust?

  12. This issue was misrepresented at the ballot box. The wording was such that it mislead people to believe it will be in the best interest of animal welfare. Is it ever safe to let the fox guard the henhouse? Did we not learn enough with Enron and the recent debacle on Wallstreet??? When money is the issue, most people making the money will put their personal desires first…regardless of their fellow humans or the animals they raise for profit.

    We do have a right to speak our minds about how you raise your livestock, if you want us to purchase said livestock for our consumption! We do have a say in how our food is raised…if you won’t listen to our voices then we shall speak with our pocketbooks!

  13. Fact – animals do produce in non-optimal condition. Welfare can be poor while productivity can be high – just look at broiler chicken production as an example.
    Fact – the way animals are reared for food is a societal concern. It is everyone’s business, not just the owners.
    I am not vegan or vegetarian. I am a carnivore working in animal welfare science, researching methods to improve farm animal welfare but keep animal agriculture in business. There is much work to be done!

  14. Issues 2 & 3 are examples of the majority of voters not doing ANY research at all, passing two amendments written by the very owners of the interests those amendments purport to control.

    Frighteningly, it may be a sign that most voters can’t do the research, and even when things are spelled out to them, they either can’t understand, or more likely, are ignorant through wilful stupidity.

    It looks like they just gave their rights away (Issue 2 – a board now makes their decisions for them), followed by their wallet (Issue 3 – they sold something for less than a 10th of its market value).

    The state just lost 450,000 million in license fees, and the farmers just took the right of the rest of us to vote on our food away.

    Ignorance begets dangerous decisions.

    Now the only way you can change it is through another public vote, either to amend the amendment or repeal it, which will cost the Taxpayer even more money — on top of what they lost in the deal.

    Now, we’ll still have to deal with the Humane Society, as Issue 2 does nothing to stop that. And I think the average voter lost what control they have over the quality of our general food supply.

    The only thing Issue 2 did was place the farmer under even more control from Big-Ag.

    In the end, the farmers will find out they hurt their own pocket-book; and the real result will be that this board will be against everything from organic, free-range farming to Truth in Labelling. Big-Ag and the “Harm” Bureau don’t want us to know where food comes from, how livestock are fed, and how many steroids and antibiotics are in the livestock they market.

    More importantly, they don’t want the voters to have a say about what types of farming and farm pollution will be allowed to expand in Ohio. This lack of voter power will really hurt all of us down the road.

    It’s disgusting how much trust the public puts in TV ads.

    Corruption loves an uninformed populace.

  15. Every time I see HSUS involved in something, I immediately have the urge to check for my wallet and watch, ensuring that I still have both. Then, I want to take a shower.

    Never have I dealt with a more blantant and misleading money collection machine hidden under the guise of a puppy.

    If these folks were concerned about animal welfare, they’d have animal shelters. Instead, they take your money, hire lawyers and sue throughtout the country and paying their executives big salaries. The animals lose, people are out of work while the execs and the lawyers get fat.

    HSUS, run some animal shelters for goodness sake.

  16. Take off the rose-colored glasses, not every farmer, rancher takes care of their animals.

    I will not buy meat from the store, I am sick of eating meat that comes from sick and abused animals……

  17. WOW! I am amazed at the lack of “common knowledge” in these comments. Farmers DO CARE for their livestock, whether they are large or small, conventional or organic. The American farmer has been around since the beginning of time-and only he can truly be the expert of how to raise healthy animals. People who “think” they know “better” (HSUS, PETA, etc.) don’t even live on a farm, let alone take care of abused animals-and never have (as far as I have seen). IF HSUS is so concerned about animal welfare-then why are they not stopping the abuse (and yes there is some out there) instead of video taping it and then several days, weeks, later releasing it to the media? They should be stopping it!!! Americans want to eat meat-fact! They also want to eat vegetables and dairy products-fact! Everyone has a choice!! Way to go Ohio-they are looking out for ALL of agriculture!!!

  18. Ohio is one of the most backward states in the country. Voters do not read or research the issues as is done in Wisconsin which is a truly dairy state. Farm Bureau could have prevented this issue from ever appearing if it just created a two tier system of animal industry. Those livestock operations requiring permits being called commercial, the remainder where the farmer does the actual work and lives on the farm, family farms.

    The commercial operations would be taxed on their sales, and have no zoning abatements. In other words they could not plunk themselves down west of another farm bureau member’s home of 32 years destroying the quality of life and personal property rights of members, so much for a caring farm bureau. I would not rejoice just yet on this issue, it is bound to return to a more educated voter agenda.

  19. It’s hard to believe but Issue has now passed. That means 98% of the Ohio population has given other 2% of the population (farmers) the permanent and exclusive right to determine how their meat is raised. End of story. In otherwords, farmers we don’t care how raise animals, just give us poorly inspected, untraceable but CHEAP meat!

  20. It’s not over till the Fat Lady sings and I can guaruntee that she ain’t even warmed up yet!!!
    You farmers better hold onto your hats cause when the HSUS comes you won’t even know what hit you!!!!
    Better line your pockets with all the money you can stash now cause these good times are coming to a screeching halt!

  21. I live in rural Wyoming surrounded by beautiful mountains,wild animals, dairy farms,a pig farm, veal farm, cattle and horse ranches.
    In the spring I love watching the new baby animals run in the fields. It tears my heart out
    when I go by the veal farm.
    It is the factory farming that I hate, it is a disgusting filthy way to make money. Feeding cows cardboard boxes, and chicken shxx is cruel, cows
    eat grass….Breaking the legs of chickens before they are killed is cruel…. Leaving a sick calf on the side of the road for the meat company to pick up (they grind it up for cheap hamburger) is ruthless…..
    Peta donates money, big money to shelters and helping animals in need.The HSUS has a ranch in
    California, they take in unwanted abused animals of all kinds, from farm animals to Chimpanzees…
    I don’t want elephants and chimpanzees beaten and mistreated by their trainers. I expect more out of humans than that.
    In 1950 Mrs.Stevens was trying to upgrade the humane slaughter of animals in meat processing plants, USDA called her a DO-GOODER.
    We need to help protect the animals, even if we are meat eaters and love dairy products..
    I am rutting for the families of the USA, our way of life is on the chopping block…..the representatives and senators we voted in should do what we ask or get out of office…..Good luck Ohio….

  22. Issue 2 should never of passed! Animal cruelty aside, the industry should not be able to regulate itself. The “board” will be made of corporate farms who donate to the politicians that appoint them. There is ONE animal rights member on the board and ZERO environmentalists. The big losers here are the consumers. Way to go OHIO!

  23. farmers know what is best for their animals, the HSUS are a group based on emotions and think everyone should feel like them, they keep bringing up different issues to justify their existance, animals are the farmers bread and butter , they will do what is best for the animals or they will be out of business, nothing worse than a group of fanatics telling someone how to run their business

  24. My family has been farming Ohio for just over a hundreed years. The HSUS has done nothing but belittle, attack, and made farmers look like ogres for as long as i can remember.
    I have not one issue with people wanting to be Vegan, etc. But the last time i looked this country said I have a right to be heard. People are sick and tired of being told you cant do this and you cant do that because i personally dont like it!
    Now let me speak loudly and clearly. We farmers have always been quiet folk. We are sick to death of being told we are the backbone of this countries food supply yet get kicked in the teeth by those we feed! We are sick to death of the AG, the FED, the HSUS telling us we are always wrong, out of step, out of place, and un needed, and un wanted! We are sick to death of the handouts we have to take from the FED because we are regulated beyond control by the very ones who are trying to shut us down.
    AG, FED, HSUS, and all the rest of you “i know better so do what i say” whinners and complainers. Get out of our way, let us do our job. Fine me if i do disobey the law! but stop making it harder for me to my job!

  25. Farm ANIMALS,as the word says,are animals,not pets.People have gotten away from the fact that animals have to be killed to be eaten.The animals on farms are not the same ones read about in childrens stories.Try to reason with a pen of livestock.There are a lot of things that happen on livestock farms that the people shouldn’t have to see.Welcome to reality.Animals get sick too.Economical dicisions(vet fees versus animal value)have to be made.Just my opinion Don’t HATE me for it.I urge you to make your own decision and visit your local FARMER.Might be one of the most important people you will ever meet.

  26. Ok everyone. Here’s the scoop. HSUS wants to get rid of most if not all NORMAL animal agricultural practices. This is NOT good by ANY means. Think about it. Do they know why farmers keep chickens in “cages”. Because they are a herd instinct type of animal and if they are just let allowed to be in a pasture together they will fight, and that’s not good at all. I think that people need to ask farmers why they do what they do. Its not that they people of Ohio are stupid or dumb. It is because the are misinformed and then mislead. Plus an organization with billions of dollars backing it up says things that then become the “truth” about the facts. And those “truths” are not really true at all. Alot of people confuse animal rights, and animal welfare. So before anyone votes on anything from now on… Make sure you are getting the facts from the right people…

  27. Okay every one just to let you know that its not right how to tell the farmers how to run their bussiness on the farm like how many cattle they can have or pigs in each pin when it is supposed to feed us so next time when there is not enough in the supper market just think to your selves I let my family go hungry to protect food animals
    Milk, chesse, Eggs, sausage, Ham, chicken, Pork, ground chuck, your Turkeys for the holidays just think how many there are in that bunch in that pen So do you think we shuld let the goverment decide and the voters noo. not even the votersss.
    this should of haved been left alone so I pray there will be a new issue 2 and pepole will go and talk to the farmers and let them show you how you get your milk, eggs etc. I think alote of you will have a diffrent asspect of farming if not a lote of farmers may be out of a job and I may need a job from them some day and they know what they are doing not the whole world so why dont some of you pepole raise your own pigs chickens cows to get what you need if you think my farmers friends are cruitly to them So just move to your own little world and just leave them alone and screw this issue 2 bussiness we dont need it to ruin our ecomeny much worse

  28. i cannot believe how naive people are, they let the hsus brainwash them and i guess they think farmers are treating all their animals terrible, and the hsus has all the answers, the bottom line is the hsus is a group of people who sucker people into giving money to them and use it for their own emotional ideas, they do not run any farms and never will , they want them shut down, if the hsus would be honest , most people would ignore them and realize the type of people they are.

  29. Will, you sound almost like I do. HSUS claims all farmers abuse their animals and they don’t. How they can they make a good living from the same thing they abuse ? I guess that only happens in the animal rights fairyland.

  30. The farmers on here who are defending abusing animals, HBO had 5 million viewers of the documentary about an ohio farmer who badly abused and tortured animals. 5 million. You’re all being looked down on today. Congrats, Ohio is synonomous with animal torture, now Ohio can claim the highest number of obese, sedentary, lazies who feel they have a self-righteous, holier-than-thou, Ted Haggard-following idiots. Good job Ohio, way to make us proud.

  31. Brooke i suppose you can find a bad apple in any basket, like i said before, the hsus will search until they find something they don’t like and make it look 10 times worse than what it is and make people believe it is common place, believe me it isn’t, farmers do take care of their animals ! The only people who should be looked down on, are the people who can’t tell it like it is.

  32. I have a right as a consumer. I can tell you what to do with your livestock. I vote with my money every day. Some people seem to think they can stay in business without considering the consumer’s wants and needs.
    I eat grass fed beef, I eat chickens raised in open air, I eat wild turkey I kill myself.
    I don’t support the HSUS, as they are far too extreme. I don’t support self regulation, because I know better. I know big beef is running the show and the true farmers will suffer at their hands. Money talks in the US, and big beef is rolling in it thanks to a fast food industry that contributes to American obesity.
    I have the utmost respect for real farmers, not cafos.

  33. Bob: You and all the others who think they can tell us farmers how to raise our livestock are in dire need to read the U.S. Constitution. It clearly outlines that you DO NOT have the right to tell us how to farm. It gives you the right to purchase and choose what food YOU want to consume, but NOT at the expense of dictating how us farmers should raise OUR livestock. Yes, you can go to the store and purchase “cage-free” eggs, “grass-fed”beef, ect., however, it is extremely selfish on your part to try to force this on every else. We farmers know that the majority of people (the silent majority) are too busy trying to make ends meet that they prefer cheaper food, and: A.already feel animals are being humanely treated, and/or B. don’t really care. These people are too busy to write comments or have absolutely no complaints. What gives you the right to tell a single parent with a low paying job that they should pay more for food just because you don’t like large farms? As for your obesity comment, it is entirely wrong to blame obesity on fast-food establishments, as there are many factors involved.
    We farmers raise livestock because we enjoy it, but, at the same time, we are entitled to make a fair living from our efforts. Yes, if enough people are willing to pay what WE deam is enough for the extra labor/costs involved in raising livestock per consumer request, many will do so, but at the same time, other farmers have the right to raise their livestock how they want.

  34. I don’t think Bob was trying to tell anyone what to think or do. He was just describing a growing opinion that many Americans are begining to care about where their food comes from. Sure, you can treat your livestock anyway you want, but consumer trends continuously change. Any smart business person will pay attention. Simply, if consumers buy more food that is produced in a certain way, more food will be produced to match eaters wants.

  35. I am a farmer after raising hog and cow for many years i know a lot more than any peta or hsus city person would know about farm amimals, all you city people against people eating tasty animals need to get a life and leve farming to the farmers if you don’t want to eat pork or beef and any other meat that is fine, more meat for me !!!!!

  36. Way to go Ohioans , you did it again! ..QUESTION – when will you Ohioans wake the heck up and see the real world ..Huh ..as a patriot and a marine .. I got to say think God I moved out of Ohio and moved to a very patriotic state that the people has some common sense ..and can think for themselves. Ohioans are a bunch of Zombies , point freaking blank , you guys will loose this nation to the elites and you will bow down to them ..your all nothing but a slave!


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