If out-of-state animal rights activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States would get legislation passed that impacts agricultural production, they could cost consumers in the United States millions of dollars. That is why passage of Issue 2 in Ohio in November is so important.
For example, a study done by a Washington, D.C., consulting firm says that if the kind of legislation that was passed in California last fall existed in every state, the price of eggs in the United States would increase by at least 25 percent. That would cost consumers across the nation about $2.6 billion more each year.
On top of that, the study shows that we would have a sharp increase in imported eggs into this country, which would increase food safety risks.
We don't really want to run that risk with every dozen eggs we buy. But that is what would happen if HSUS and other groups forced a ban on the most modern, sanitary egg production system in the world.
Increasing imports would also increase the carbon footprint of a dozen eggs. That is because of increased transportation to get the eggs to us.
With the excellent egg producing system we have in this country, we certainly don't want to be forced into importing them with all the risks involved.
Coming back to Issue 2 and its importance to all of us, one small group is trying to say that Issue 2 just benefits large farms at the expense of smaller ones. When we look at the make up of the Livestock Care Standards Board that would be created by this legislation, we can see it is "size neutral.'' It would not benefit large farms over small ones.
On this board would be a group of Ohioans that would include three family farmers, two veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members from statewide farm organizations, the Dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two members representing Ohio consumers. It would be chaired by the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
These individuals will use their best knowledge and available information to make decisions affecting Ohio's animal agriculture. They will not be biased toward one size farm over another.
Compare this to these outside groups that want to get legislation passed that has no sound, factual basis. Rather, it is based on their long-range objective of forcing all of us to become vegetarians. They are doing this slowly by trying to get agricultural practices changed that will cost consumers more money and have the potential of causing food shortages down the road.
If someone wants to be a vegetarian, that is their right of choice. We respect that right. But these activist groups do not have the right to force all of us to take healthful animal products out of our diets.
An occasional vegetarian also goes to the extreme of trying to tell us animal products are unhealthy. We do need to eat any kind of food in moderation with a balanced diet. To say, as one did, that eating a hamburger is poison is just plain nonsense.
As consumers we want to know that our food is safe, nutritious, affordable and, as much as possible, locally grown. We also want to know that animals on our Ohio farms are well cared for and healthy and that farmers are following recommended practices.
Passage of Issue 2 will provide those assurances.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.