Last year, Ohio voters voted by a nearly 2-to-1 margin to amend its state constitution and create a Livestock Care Standards Board, made up of veterinarians and agriculture experts, to set animal care standards for the state.
Ohioans for Humane Farms, a state ballot committee sponsored by the the Humane Society of the United States, is now launching what many in the ag industry are calling a “counterattack” against the ballot measure, which animal rights groups vehemently opposed in November.
The group has filed a petition, with signatures from voters in 48 local
counties, to Ohio’s Secretary of State to get an anti-cruelty measure
on the statewide ballot in November.
If accepted onto the ballot, the voters
will have the option of requiring the new Ohio Livestock Care Standards
Board to adopt specific minimum standards that, according to the group,
would “prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals,
enhance food safety, protect the environment, and strengthen Ohio family
Groups like the Humane Society view the animal care board, which will be made up of experts appointed by the governor and legislature, as a roadblock to fair and humane animal handling regulations.
The Humane Society also believes that the handling regulations have significant food safety implications.
“Cramming tens of thousands of animals into tiny changes fosters the
spread of animal diseases that may affect people,” said the group,
pointing out that a recent American Journal of Epidemiology report
showed that eggs from confined cages are 250 percent more likely to contract
“We wouldn’t cram our pets into cages barely larger than their bodies for their entire lives, and we shouldn’t subject farm animals to this inhumane and unacceptable confinement either,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. “All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food.”
The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) came out against the petition, stating that animal handling issues should be addressed in the legislature.
“The OVMA believes all reasonable efforts to enhance animal well-being and care should be reviewed and considered with the utmost diligence. Doing so requires a proper and thorough examination of what science does and doesn’t tell us about the aspects of animal welfare under consideration,” the group said.
“While we respect the right of the citizens of the state to express their wishes regarding important matters, the complex nature of the science and values in animal housing systems is such that we have recommended now, as well as last year, that livestock welfare standards be addressed through legislative and not constitutional ballot mediums.”
Michigan was the latest state to adopt similar reforms–voters approved a measure to mandate that farm animals have more space to turn around and extend their limbs.
Pictured: One million calves are raised for veal annually in the United States–intensively confined in individual stalls so small they can’t turn around during their entire 16- to 18-week lives before slaughter. Widely known for their inherent cruelty, veal crates are being phased out in Europe–yet remain in use throughout the United States. Humane Society of the United States.