As of Wednesday, times are changing for animals on Ohio’s farms, kennels, and fighting rings—too quickly for industrial farmers and breeders, and too slowly for animal protection workers.
Heralding an abrupt change of focus for both communities, Governor Ted Strickland brokered an eleventh-hour agreement between the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), on eight major animal welfare issues.
Farmers and animal advocates will give Cincinnatians plenty to chew on in the coming week, during two public discussions of Ohio’s proposed farm animal cruelty prevention bill. By requiring that pigs, chickens, and veal calves have enough space to stretch their limbs, the bill would require the state’s industrial mega-farms to operate more like the small, traditional animal farms which they have squeezed to a small corner of their market. Aimed at protecting animals, the bill would likely reduce the competitive disadvantage at which these small farms find themselves. In the long run, farmers and “slow food” enthusiasts hope it might keep small-scale farming viable for younger generations.
Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, will speak Saturday afternoon about his work and Ohio’s bill.
Volunteers Jan Hughes and Jamie Williams of Warren County, gathering signatures at Findlay Market; photo courtesy of K. Kil
One signature at a time, volunteers across Ohio are working to reverse the direction of the state’s rapidly-industrializing animal farming system. They have until June 31 to gather 600,000 voter signatures, in support of a November referendum that would crack down upon the most inhumane elements of industrial confinement and slaughter.
They call the main goal of the bill modest: to provide every laying hen, pregnant sow, and calf, with enough space to stand up, lay down, turn in a full circle, and extend his or her limbs.