REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Members of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board could easily have more than 2,000 comments to review on their proposed new veal calf standard.
As of March 10, more than 1,750 public comments had been submitted, said Mike Bailey, the board’s executive director.
Public comments on the new standard, which was approved in a 6-5 vote at the March 1 meeting, will continue through March 15.
The standard can be viewed on the care board’s Web site, www.ohiolivestockcarestandardsboard.gov, and comments can be submitted electronically to Ecomments@agri.ohio.gov.
The biggest concern in the standard is language that allows veal farmers to continue using non-turnaround calf confinement for the animal’s first 10 weeks of age.
Veal farmers and several members of the veal subcommittee argue they need this early confinement for the animal’s well-being, and because transferring to group housing for calves of all ages is cost prohibitive. Others, including veal subcommittee chairman Gaylord Barkman, maintain group housing for calves of all ages is more costly, but manageable.
Bailey and staff at the Ohio Department of Agriculture currently are assessing the best way to share the high volume of comments with board members. In addition to the primary e-mail address, he’s also seeing about 30-40 comments a day to the care board’s main address.
“We’re just trying to figure out the best way to make sure that the board fully receives these comments,” he said.
Board members will have at least two full weeks to review the comments before they meet again, April 5. At that meeting, the standard can be updated, or approved as it is, depending on what the board decides.
Once the standard is approved, the public will once again have the opportunity for comment, during a public hearing, to be held at the ODA. The other specie standards also will be part of this hearing, with the date yet to be determined.
A separate hearing will be held March 17 for the documents General Considerations for the Care and Welfare of Livestock, and Disabled and Distressed Livestock. Both items were given board approval at previous meetings, and are now in the rule making process, as required by the state’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.
Bailey said the veal comments contain a mix of form letters, and quite a few individual letters from citizens. Most appear to be “overwhelmingly objecting to the board’s action,” he said.
Some organizations, including the state’s largest animal rights organizations, have encouraged their members to submit letters to the board opposing the standard.