(1/14/2010) Rod Smith
Representatives of the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB), addressing the 91st annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) this week, related their experience last year in winning Ohio voters' approval for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and urged other state farm bureaus to consider setting up similar standards boards in their states.
OFB president Brent Porteus said Ohio's farmers and ranchers moved quickly last year to establish the Ohio board after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) indicated its plans to compel producers to change animal handling practices the way it has via ballot initiatives or legislation in other states.
"In our opinion, HSUS did not have (the best interests of) Ohio farmers, Ohio consumers and even Ohio animals . . . at heart," he said.
OFB executive vice president Jack Fisher and senior director of legislative and regulatory policy Adam Sharp said OFB worked with all farmers in the state and a number of consumer, business and political interests organized as Ohioans for Livestock Care to pass legislation proposing the board as a constitutional amendment and then win voter approval. The board was approved by 64% of voters (Feedstuffs, July 13 and Nov. 9, 2008).
Voters "took to the message" that Ohio producers follow humane practices and produce high-quality, safe food and that it's important to keep Ohioans in charge of Ohio agriculture, Fisher and Sharp said. "Ohio consumers didn't want someone from Washington, D.C. (like HSUS), telling them what to do," Sharp said.
Fisher and Sharp said the Ohio group is now working to get implementation legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly, after which the board members will be appointed and put to work codifying humane animal handling practices for Ohio livestock and poultry producers.
At least two other states, Idaho and Missouri, are considering state livestock care standards boards.