What does Issue 2 propose?
Issue 2 would amend Ohio’s constitution to place future decisions about the treatment of livestock animals, in the hands of a government-appointed “Livestock Care Standards Board.”
The resolution does not define “livestock,” so it is unclear whether dogs raised on large-scale intensive breeding facilities–known by detractors as “puppy mills”–would be affected by this legislation.
Why has Issue 2 been proposed?
Issue 2’s proponents have been clear about their motive: to prevent animal welfare reforms backed by the Humane Society of the United States. An HSUS-supported referendum passed this year in California, which requires that all caged farm animals be given enough room to stretch their wings and legs, and turn around in a circle. While small farms often meet this requirement, the large, industrialized indoor farms that provide most of America’s meat and eggs, often do not.
In an Oct. 14 Farm and Dairy article John Fitzpatrick, Farm Bureau director for Ashland, Wayne, and Medina counties, expressed what many other industry advocates have said:
Some regulation is coming. It’s probably better that we set it, rather than someone else. They may be after the veal farmers, and the swine farmers and the layers, but they’re coming for all of us and we all need to care about each other.
Who would serve on the board?
This board has therefore been designed to favor the interests of commercial livestock producers. Chaired by Ohio’s Director of Agriculture, it would consist of:
• five livestock farm representatives
• two food animal veterinarians, including Ohio’s State Veterinarian
• the dean of a university agriculture department
• one member who is “knowledgeable about food safety”
• two consumer representatives
• one humane society representative
Eight of these twelve members would necessarily be members of the livestock industry: the farm representatives, the livestock veterinarians, and the agriculture dean. If the proposal passes, three individuals will join the board regardless of appointments: the agriculture department dean, the State Veterinarian, and the Director of Agriculture. A glance into the backgrounds of these men–who are not officially on the board as interest group representatives–may provide an inkling of the group’s likely leaning on food animal policies:
Bobby D. Moser, Dean of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, holds degrees in animal science and nutrition. Before becoming an agriculture education administrator, his research was focused on making intensive farming practices more efficient: specifically, “the effect of high-energy diets on swine reproductive performance, carcass quality, and growth rate and efficiency.” Since 2002, Moser has donated $2,100 to the Political Action Committee of Land’O’Lakes, one of America’s largest producers of butter and cheese. Last month Land’O’Lakes was accused of supporting cruelty to animals, after Fox News broke this story.
Tony Forshey, State Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, is a pork producer who has donated $505 to Friends of Pork, the political action committee of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. He earned his veterinary degree from Ohio State University.
Robert J. Boggs, Ohio Director of Agriculture, joined the Department of Agriculture after a 34-year career in state politics. He is affiliated with both the Ohio Farm Bureau–one of the most vocal industry advocacy groups to support Issue 2–and the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group which opposes Issue 2.
Please revisit Sentient Cincinnati soon, for a brief analysis of Issue 2’s implications for farmers, consumers, and farm animals.