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Ohio passes livestock care ballot initiative

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June 25, 2009

SALEM, Ohio: Two identical bills, H.J.R 2 and S.J.R. 6, have both been passed through the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio State Senate.[1]

If voters in November ratify the proposed amendment, it will create a constitutional amendment to establish the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, a 13-member committee that would be responsible for creating and implementing livestock treatment guidelines throughout the state. The members would include various officials from the state government, such as the Ohio director of agriculture, as well as family farmers selected by government institutions to represent them. They would be charged with establishing and implementing animal care standards, with enforcement from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.[2]

The legislatively-referred constitutional amendment has overwhelming support from both the political and agricultural community in Ohio. Governor Ted Strickland announced his support for it even before it was approved for the next Ohio statewide ballot, saying, "The board will ensure that Ohioans continue to have access to a safe and affordable local food supply and will make our state a national leader in the level of animal care and responsibility." Additionally, members of various Ohio agriculture organizations, including the Ohio Poultry Association, the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, and the Ohio Cattlemen's Association; have all given laudatory statements concerning the bill and the potential it has to enact reform in the future.[3]

Despite all this, the Humane Society of the United States continues to oppose it. Paul Shapiro, senior director of the organization, has expressed skepticism concerning the overt bureaucratization of the committee. Shapiro equated it to the 'fox guarding the hen house' situation, saying that "Because of the proposed industry-dominated board, it is poor public policy, and we believe voters should not support the amendment."[3] The HSUS has repeatedly called for restrictions on government agricultural agencies, and they are reportedly prepared to launch a statewide ballot initiative for November 2010 to accomplish their goals.

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