Editorial on Issue 2: What does it mean to care for an animal?

White's chickens

A cage of chickens at White's Livestock Auction and Flea Market in Brookville, IN

It’s not a question that’s receiving much attention in the debate over whether an Ohio “Livestock Care Standards Board” should be formed, as per Issue 2.  But concerned humans should pay attention to the phrase “animal care” this week, since the two sides of the battle refer to different modes of caring.

To some, animal care means doing what is needed to make animal operations as efficient as possible–generally focusing on “herd health” and output over the health of individual animals.

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Issue 2: What, Who, and Why?

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.

An employee at White's Livestock Auction in Brooksville, IN, moves pigs into a waiting pen.

A White's Livestock Auction employee moves pigs into a waiting pen, in Brookville, IN.

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.

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