Livestock Care Board scrambles for consensus on veal calves, seeks public input

Jeff Wuebker, a pork producer and member of the Livestock Care Standards Board, deliberating.

Responding to pressure from veal farmers, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted last week—by a 6-5 margin—to erase a new standard that would have granted veal calves enough space to turn around in their stalls.

The vote has jeopardized a delicate compromise between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and agricultural trade groups.  Now, the board has until April 5 to reach a consensus, and is accepting public comments on veal standards until Tues. March 15, at ecomments@agri.ohio.gov. Continue reading

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“Animals built to move should be allowed to move.”

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.
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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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