An official with the Humane Society of the United States calls it a "modest reform," but a local farmer describes it as a "big scam."
Both were referring to an initiative by the Ohioans for Humane Farms group to place a measure on the November ballot which would require that the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board act on "critical issues" regarding livestock in the next six years. The measure would also give the board "some needed direction," according to the Ohioans for Humane Farms website, www.ohiohumane.com.
Voters in the state passed Issue 2 in the November 2009 election, creating the board to establish and implement standards of care for livestock and poultry. The initiative aims to amend the state's constitution, but would not prevent the board from doing its work, according to campaign manager Karen Minton, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, which is not affiliated with the local group.
ASHLEY HILL The Marietta Times
Brady Campbell, 17, spends time with Berkshire gilts at his family’s hog farm in Waterford Tuesday. The Ohioans for Humane Farms group has started an initiative to place a measure on the ballot which would amend a measure approved last year to establish the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
"This measure doesn't in any way, shape or form overturn Issue 2," she said. "The only way for us to give this board minimum standards to work from is to go into the constitution and amend it."
The manner in which cows, poultry and pigs are caged as well as the manner in which on-farm cows or pigs are killed are just a few of the issues the amendment would require the board to address within six years.
"We have over 27 million animals in this state who spend nearly their entire lives in cages and crates barely larger than the animals themselves," Minton said. "So what this language will do is give these 27 million animals enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully spread their limbs."
About Issue 2
Passed 2,020,851 to 1,148,538 in the November 2009 election.
Established an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to create and implement standards of care for poultry and livestock, maintain food safety and encourage locally grown food.
Comprised of 13 members, representing family farms, statewide organizations that represent family farmers, Ohio consumers and others.
Source: Times research.
About the proposed amendment
The Ohioans for Humane Farms group has started an initiative to place a measure on the ballot which would amend the constitution to require the board to set standards regarding the treatment of cows, poultry and pigs on family farms within six years.
More than 400,000 signatures have already been collected, and 402,275 are needed by June 30 in order for the measure to be placed on the ballot.
Paid and volunteer signature collectors are in every county throughout the state collecting signatures.
Source: Times research.
She added that the board would also be required to put provisions into place that would prohibit cows that are too sick or weak to walk or raise their head from being transported, sold or received for slaughter.
"Nobody wants to eat meat from an animal that's too sick to raise its head," Minton said.
She said thousands of people from Ohio and other states are in every county in the state collecting signatures so the measure can be placed on the ballot. Some of the signature gatherers are paid; others are volunteers.
"We have well over 400,000 at his point," she said. "We're required to submit to the Secretary of State's office 402,275 valid signatures in order to get it onto the ballot."
A number of organizations, including the national Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have endorsed the ballot measure.
But the Ohioans for Livestock Care group has created a movement against the initiative, and is circulating a petition which voters can sign showing their support for the Livestock Care Standards Board.
Joe Campbell, who helps run his family's hog farm in Waterford, called the initiative a "big scam." He said he voted for issue 2 and he doesn't want to see the humane farms group dictate what the standards board does.
"They want to do away with animals - they want you to go out and eat grass," Campbell said.
Issue 2 was seen as a way to head off a ballot issue like the Humane Society has gotten passed in some other states. Agricultural officials and local farmers argued that the Humane Society's restrictions would create too great of an economic burden, although its impact on smaller, family-owned farms in Washington county was considered minimal.
Chris Hartline, who operates the Hartline Valley Farms dairy farm in Marietta with a few other individuals, said she also voted for Issue 2 and she's opposed to the new initiative.
"We established this board to make sure that farms - all farms - in Ohio are treating their animals humanely," she said. "If the H.S.U.S. comes in and wins, it's gonna skyrocket the prices and put farmers out of business."
Kari Burkey, the organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said she's opposed to not only the initiative, but the tactics of those collecting signatures.
She said last week there were two people at the River City Farmers Market at the Washington County Fairgrounds attempting to collect signatures, and they were "very manipulating."
"They don't always give the exact details of what they're collecting for," she said.
Burkey argued that the measure would "supersede" the board Ohioans voted to establish, and that the board hasn't had time to do any work.
"If we want to continue to eat agricultural products, we need to stay unified and let Ohioans make decisions about agriculture and not out-of-state activists who don't understand why we have certain practices in place," she said.