Ohio voters approve creation of controversial livestock care standards board

[JURIST] Ohio voters on Tuesday approved [results] a ballot measure [text] to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, commonly referred to as Issue 2. The purpose of the board will be to maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families. The measure will amend the Ohio Constitution and prevent groups from putting livestock care issues on future ballots through a citizen-initiated voter referendum. Ohio Department of Agriculture [official website] Director Robert Boggs [official profile] said [op-ed, PDF]:

Issue 2 is critical to Ohio for several reasons. It will mean ensuring the continued viability and success of our livestock and poultry farmers. It will mean that we can maintain the excellent care of livestock and poultry in our state. It will mean that we can protect Ohio family farms. It will mean that we can sustain the availability of safe, locally-grown food. This initiative is not a question of policy; it is a process for improvement.
Issue 2 was controversial because animal rights groups alleged the amendment was proposed by Ohio's farming industry to prevent certain animal care reforms proposed by the Humane Society of the United States [advocacy website] (HSUS) that some view as a threat to the agriculture industry. President and CEO of HSUS Wayne Pacelle [official profile] said [statement]:
By packaging Issue 2 as pro-animal welfare and pro-food safety, the architects of the ballot measure went a long way to assure its passage. We have not viewed Issue 2 as a poisonous package, but rather an empty one. The Ohio Farm Bureau and other agribusiness lobby groups cooked it up in an effort to block 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, where they cannot even turn around and stretch their limbs.
According to HSUS, seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon — have banned the use of inhumane confinement devices for farm animals, largely through voter-initiated referenda. HSUS said the approval of Issue 2 ensures "that Ohio lags behind other states and public opinion when it comes to the treatment of farm animals and movement away from the worst factory farming practices."


 

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