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Balance of Power: Livestock Care Board checks and balances

Published Oct. 15, 2009 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Buckeye Farm News

Issue 2 was designed to give Ohio voters the confidence that animal care questions are being effectively addressed and to give farmers the assurance that any animal care policies in Ohio will be reasonable and based on comprehensive debate.

That meant giving the proposed Livestock Care Standards Board enough leeway to make important decisions, while also maintaining provisions that ensure protection for all Ohioans.

OFBF Director of State Policy Beth Vanderkooi said there are several ways that the Livestock Care Standards Board will be responsive to the needs of farmers and consumers.

“First of all, it is designed in such a way that we have every reason to expect that the board members would advocate for reasonable animal care policies,” Vanderkooi said.

The 13-member board would include family farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert, the dean of an Ohio agricultural college, consumers and a local humane society representative. It would be chaired by the director of the department of agriculture. The governor would be responsible for appointing 10 members to the board, and his appointments would be subject to Senate approval.

“At the national level, most of us are familiar with the scrutiny that is given to Supreme Court nominees,” Vanderkooi said. “We would go through a very similar process to appoint members to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards board. There would be an opportunity for anyone to voice concerns about a prospective member of the board.”

Issue 2 is also limited in that it only creates a mechanism for Ohio to address animal care issues, and it leaves the details up to the legislature.

“The Livestock Care Standards Board is not above any existing government body,” Vanderkooi said. “The legislature sets the parameters in which the Livestock Care Standards Board can operate. The scope of the authority of the board would be no greater than specifically enumerated in the Constitution and would be subject to a legislative check on that authority.”

Vanderkooi points to past efforts by the Ohio Department of Health to enforce regulations on Ohio’s cottage food producers such as home bakers.

“The legislature stepped in and said this isn’t reasonable, and they passed a bill that limited the authority of the Department of Health to regulate those small-scale food producers,” she said. “There is a similar level of protection with the Livestock Care Standards Board.”

If Issue 2 passes, the legislature would begin work on what’s known as implementing legislation. This will cover details such as the term length of board members, the scope of enforcement authority and the specifics of where the board will be housed.

“Our full expectation is that the Livestock Care Standards Board will carry out its constitutional charge of setting animal care standards that protect Ohio farms and families. But there are also many safeguards to ensure the board will always remain responsive to Ohioans,” Vanderkooi said.

Levels of protection

·         The Ohio legislature ultimately retains authority over the reach of the Livestock Care Standards Board.

·         If Issue 2 passes, lawmakers will draft implementing legislation that details the appropriate authority of the board.

·         Proposals by the Livestock Care Standards Board will be subject to review through the public rule-making process.

·         Members of the Livestock Care Standards Board will go through a public vetting process. The governor’s appointments must be approved by the Senate.

·         The Livestock Care Standards Board cannot include more than seven members from one political party.

·         The Livestock Care Standards Board will include knowledgeable Ohioans who can be expected to advocate for reasonable animal care policies.

·         The scope of what the Livestock Care Standards Board may consider as well as its goals are explicitly laid out in the Ohio Constitution.



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