On July 14, the Ohio Legislature passed a joint resolution that is important to Ohio consumers and farmers. This resolution will place a constitutional issue on livestock care before Ohio voters this fall.
When this issue passes in November, it will create an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. This board will establish guidelines for food animal care under the expertise of Ohioans, including farmers, veterinarians, scientists and food safety experts. They will use their best combined knowledge in making decisions affecting animal agriculture, and that make sense for Ohio farmers and consumers.
Ohio livestock farmers are committed to responsible animal care and management. This board will help Ohio farmers to continue to provide excellent care for their animal. It will also help protect our food supply and keep affordable, locally-raised food available for consumers.
Bipartisan work done by the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate, along with Governor Strickland, overwhelmingly passed this joint resolution. This action, supported by all major family farm groups statewide, was passed even though the Legislature was faced with a lengthy battle over the state budget. It will now be on the ballot for Ohio voters. Consumers need to be assured that their food is produced responsibly and animals are well cared for, the major responsibility of this board.
Ohio's livestock farmers and their allies are united behind this constitutional amendment. The farm community is supporting this proactive step to provide a consistent and transparent approach to animal care. Ohio livestock standards should be established by Ohioans who know the industry and the consuming public.
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board would include:
- The director of the department of agriculture, who would chair the board;
- Ten members appointed by the governor with state Senate approval, as follows: one family farm representative, one member who knows food safety in Ohio; two members representing statewide farmer organizations; one veterinarian licensed in Ohio; the state veterinarian; the dean of an Ohio college or university's agriculture department; two members of the public representing Ohio consumers; one member representing a county humane society; two family farmers appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.
- No more than seven members of the board can be of the same political party.
Authority for administering and enforcing standards that are established would be delegated to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
This broadly represented group would assure Ohio farmers and consumers that their diverse interests would be considered.
Major farm groups, including the Ohio Farm Bureau and various livestock and crop associations, have banded together to get this legislation passed. They don't want legislation driven by an outside group with just one point of view not based on factual and science based information.
Livestock regulations established for Ohio farmers that also benefit Ohio consumers should be established by Ohio people, not some outside group with their own agenda. And at least one of these groups want to force their way on Ohio. As we approach the November election, much more information will be made available to keep voters informed.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent writer for the Tribune.