Ohio Livestock Care Standards, Issue 2 (2009)

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An Ohio Livestock Care Standards Amendment, Issue 2 appeared on the November 3, 2009 general election ballot in Ohio as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.[1] The amendment proposed creating a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for the purpose of establishing standards governing the care of livestock and poultry. The Ohio General Assembly would pass the legislation.[2]

Election results

Ohio Issue 3 was approved by voters on the night of November 3, 2009 before 11:30pm EST. Unofficial election results follow:[3]

Issue 2
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 1,959,669 63.66%
No 1,118,805 36.34%
Total votes 3,078,474 100.00%
Voter turnout 40.31%


Aftermath

On January 27, 2010 the Ohio Livestock Care Initiative (2010), a initiated constitutional amendment, was filed with the Ohio Attorney General for the November 2, 2010 ballot in Ohio. According to the filed petition the proposed initiative, a countermeasure to Issue 2 (2009), requires that the Livestock Care Standards Board adopt certain minimum standards.[4] The measure is supported by the Humane Society of the United States.

Ballot summary

According to the final ballot language, Issue 2 would:[5]

  • Require the state to create the Livestock Care Standards Board to prescribe standards for animal care and well-being that endeavor to maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families.
  • Authorize this bipartisan board of thirteen members to consider factors that include, but are not limited to, agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being, biosecurity, disease prevention, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety practices, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers when establishing and implementing standards.
  • Provide that the board shall be comprised of thirteen Ohio residents including representatives of Ohio family farms, farming organizations, food safety experts, veterinarians, consumers, the dean of the agriculture department at an Ohio college or university and a county humane society representative.
  • Authorize the Ohio department that regulates agriculture to administer and enforce the standards established by the board, subject to the authority of the General Assembly.

A "yes" vote approves the amendment, while a "no" vote is a rejection of the amendment. A majority vote is required before the amendment is adopted.

Constitutional changes

See also: Amending the Ohio Constitution

According to the text of the proposed amendment, Issue 2 would enact Section 1 of Article 14 to read:[6]

Text of Section 1:
  • (A) There is hereby created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for the purpose of establishing standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in this state. In carrying out its purpose, the Board shall endeavor to maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families. The Board shall be comprised of the following thirteen members:
  • (A)(1) The director of the state department that regulates agriculture who shall be the chairperson of the Board;
  • (A)(2) Ten members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The ten members appointed by the Governor shall be residents of this state and shall include the following:
(a) One member representing family farms;
(b) One member who is knowledgeable about food safety in this state;
(c) Two members representing statewide organizations that represent farmers;
(d) One member who is a veterinarian who is licensed in this state;
(e) The State Veterinarian in the state department that regulates agriculture;
(f) The dean of the agriculture department of a college or university located in this state;
(g) Two members of the public representing Ohio consumers;
(h) One member representing a county humane society that is organized under state law.
  • (A)(3) One member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives who shall be a family farmer;
  • (A)(4) One member appointed by the President of the Senate who shall be a family farmer. Not more than seven members appointed to the Board at any given time shall be of the same political party.
  • (B) The Board shall have authority to establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in this state, subject to the authority of the General Assembly. In establishing those standards, the Board shall consider factors that include, but are not limited to, agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being, biosecurity, disease prevention, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety practices, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers.
  • (C) The state department that regulates agriculture shall have the authority to administer and enforce the standards established by the Board.
  • (D) The General Assembly may enact laws that it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, to facilitate the execution of the duties of the Board and the state department that regulates agriculture under this section, and to set the terms of office of the Board members and conditions for the Board members' service on the Board.
  • (E) If any part of this section is held invalid, the remainder of this section shall not be affected by that holding and shall continue in full force and effect.

Support

Governor Ted Strickland backs Issue 2, which doesn’t state guidelines for animal safety standards, but does implement a 13 member board that would then set animal protection procedures. Other supporters of the issue include The Ohio Farm Bureau, who argue that the measure offers an outline that would enable safety procedures to effectively ensure the care of livestock animals.

According to the Farm Bureau, if the measure were enacted, the board could consult with animal behaviorists, scientists and veterinarians while scheming their plan to develop standards. The group believes these standards would help prevent disease and other food issues.

According to bureau lobbyist Keith Stimpert: "We're going to assemble a panel of knowledgeable people. It's important to take a very thoughtful approach to the issue."

Other company owners said they are afraid that their industry would disappear if not protected by Issue 2. Dave and Troy Ernest, owners of their father-son operation, County Line Pork, Inc., support the measure due to fears that animal rights groups would hurt their industry if they gained control. The Ernests, who own their 1,200 sow operation on Ohio’s State Route 81, west of the Hardin-Allen County Line, point to California’s egg industry as evidence. They state that California's egg industry will soon be eliminated after animal rights groups campaigned for and saw passage of Proposition 2, outlawing certain kinds of crates for animals. According to Dave Ernest, “"They have a lot of money and a lot of power. If we don't do something, we will see these groups...come in.”[7]

Arguments

On September 9, 2009, Ohio Livestock Care, a political action committee who supports the measure, released a compiled list of 20 reasons to vote for ballot Issue 2.

Among the 20 reasons were:

Ohio.jpg
  • Ohio farmers strongly support the proposal to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board because it will ensure animal care is top of mind for all farmers and keep regulatory control of Ohio's farms where it belongs--in the state
  • It allows the people of Ohio to vote for an Ohio solution to animal care issues -- one that puts the decision making for livestock care and local food production in the hands of Ohio consumers and Ohio experts in farming, animal well-being and food safety.
  • It is important that changes suggested for the entire agriculture community be carefully considered by Ohio experts and supported by science, fact and data.
  • Through Issue 2 farmers are taking an unprecedented lead in the nation. Being responsive to the consumers they serve, Ohio farmers are taking a proactive stance to provide for informed, responsible decisions about food and animal care issues in the state through creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.[8]

Click here to view all 20 reasons listed by Ohio Livestock Care.

Donors

According to the final reports by Ohioans for Livestock Care, the group raised more than $5 million and spent approximately $4.7 million.[9]

Contributor Amount
Cooper Farms $144,495
Ohio Fresh Eggs $144,000
The American Farm Bureau Federation (Washington, D.C.) $100,000
New Day Farms (Wisconsin) $60,000
Cargill Inc. (South Dakota) $50,000
Monsanto Co. (Iowa) $50,000

Opposition


Paul Jacob of Citizens in Charge discusses opposition of animal rights groups to Issue 2

Ohio Against Constitutional Takeover Coalition, stated their opposition to Issue 2 in a debate during a monthly meeting of the Women’s Democratic Caucus:

  • Their opposition is based on their belief that the a constitutional amendment should not allow big agribusiness to control or influence the Ohio Constitution.
  • Natalie Kee, spokeswoman for the group during the debate, stated that group was put together by the request of Food and Water Watch, based out of Washington D.C., and is supported by Ohio Farmer’s Union and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and the Ohio Sierra Club.
  • According to Kee: “Yes, there is an animal welfare component to the issue that’s a big part of the debate but there’s also another component. There are already boards in existence that are not in the Constitution that regulate farmers — the Ohio Department of Agriculture and executive orders from the Governor — there are a lot of other ways to do it.”[10]

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor displayed her disagreement with the measure in a speech given to the Hancock County Republican Party on October 15, 2009 at a dinner held at the University of Findlay. In her address, O’Connor stated:

  • The amendment is an “inappropriate use” of a constitutional amendment.
  • Issues such as animal rights should be decided by state lawmakers.
  • According to O’Connor: “Policy needs to evolve as our society changes.” Approximately 75 people attended the dinner, including many county leaders.[11]

Arguments

Animal rights groups believe that the statewide issue does not protect livestock as much as the language states, citing that the industry would house animals in cramped and unsafe cages and barns. Also among concerns is that the industry, by placing this measure on the ballot in hopes of enactment, is attempting to stop animal rights groups from getting their own measure on the ballot, therefore preventing a more animal-protective initiative.

State Representative Michael J. Skindell has stated that agribusiness interests are blocking regulations that would require more room in cages for chickens and in barns for cows.[12]

Skindell also stated that The Humane Society of the United States posted their beliefs on their website on August 28 2009 by stating:

"Why is The Humane Society of the United States opposing Issue 2? While designed to give the appearance of helping farm animals, Issue 2 is little more than a power grab by Ohio’s agribusiness lobby. The industry-dominated “animal care” council proposed by Issue 2 is really intended to thwart meaningful improvements in how the millions of farm animals in Ohio are treated on large factory farms."[13]

Campaigning

On October 27, 2009, opponents of Issue 2 held a news conference, stating they were the "little guys" in a debate that places them against the government and factory megafarms. According to Warren Taylor, owner of Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy in Meigs County stated that creation of a Livestock Standards Board if Issue 2 is passed is "government intervention" that is unwelcomed among small family farms. Taylor stated: "We, as the little guys, are constantly under pressure. We are concerned about our very survival. Issue 2 could regulate me out of business." The coalition Ohio Against Constitutional Takeover held the news conference that featured director of ProgressOhio, Brian Rothenburg, who commented on "government takeover" and the group's arguments against it:"It will be the fox guarding the henhouse. It is wrong for Ohioans."[14]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Ohio ballot measures, 2009

Editorial boards in support

  • The Mansfield News Journal is in support of Issue 2. The board argues that the measure should be approved in order to reduce problems with Ohio farmers. "Proponents of the issue are trying to get in front of planned ballot initiatives by animal rights groups to strictly control or ban cages and crates used to house livestock and chickens. Farmers fear these misguided measures could financially kill small livestock or egg operations. Although the passage of State Issue 2 would not prevent future ballot measures from outside interests, it would create an in-state regulatory body that understands farming and livestock care. Voters should not hesitate to pass this measure as a means of maintaining control over the food supply," said the board.[15]

Editorial boards opposed

  • The Toledo Free Press does not support Issue 2. "The idea of trying to protect farm animals and to protect us as consumers on face value is a good thing. While the intentions of Issue 2 may be to do that, it’s the lack of clear guidelines in how Issue 2 would make that happen that has given us pause," writes Editor in Chief Michael Miller. [16]
  • The Plain Dealer is opposed to Issue 2. The board said,"What's not needed is radical change, written into the state Constitution either by the farm lobby or by animal-rights groups unconcerned whether they end up driving farmers out of business. Ohioans who vote 'no' on Issue 2 on Nov. 3 should be prepared to vote 'no' again, should the Humane Society seek its own ballot measure in a future election."[17]

See also

Articles

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. Farm & Dairy, "Senate, House pass livestock care ballot initiative", June 25, 2009
  2. The Columbus Dispatch,"Casinos aren't only ballot issue," November 1, 2009
  3. Secretary of State, "Live Unofficial Election Results"
  4. The Columbus Dispatch,"Issue 2 countermeasure in works," February 2, 2010
  5. Ohio Secretary of State,"2 Proposed Constitutional Amendment," retrieved October 19, 2009
  6. 128th General Assembly, "Text of Issue"
  7. The Ada Herald, "Correction about Issue Two", October 9, 2009
  8. Ohio's Country Journal, "TWENTY REASONS TO VOTE YES FOR STATE ISSUE 2", September 9, 2009
  9. The Columbus Dispatch,"Casino backers put $47 million into campaign," December 12, 2009
  10. Mansfield News Journal, "Issue 2 debate featured at Democratic Caucus", October 13, 2009
  11. The Courier, "Justice O'Connor critical of Issue 2", October 16, 2009
  12. Cincinnati.com, "Animal rights fight heads to voters", September 20, 2009
  13. Humane Society of the United States, "November 3, 2009: Vote NO on Ohio's Issue 2", August 28, 2009
  14. The Columbus Dispatch, "Amendment favors agribusiness forces, would be bad for small farmers, they say", October 28, 2009
  15. Mansfield News Journal,"Editorial: Vote no on state issue 1; vote yes on issue 2," October 17, 2009
  16. Toledo Free Press "Election endorsements: issues and offices", October 30th, 2009
  17. The Plain Dealer,"Vote no on Issue 2: Farm animal care is a matter for statutory law, not the Ohio Constitution: An editorial," October 15, 2009