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Livestock care board begins to take shape
Update (1/21/10): House sponsor testimony was held Wednesday, Jan. 20 for the implementing legislation. Proponent testimony is scheduled for the week of Jan. 25. The legislation is known as House Bill 414. Here is the text of the bill as introduced.
Buckeye Farm News
In the months since voters approved Issue 2, creating a Livestock Care Standards Board, the state’s coalition of livestock groups and others who worked for its passage have been preparing to take a serious look at how livestock and poultry are raised in the state.
“All along, we in agriculture have known that this is an important step, one that can make Ohio a national leader in livestock care. We need a program that works,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) Director of State Policy Beth Vanderkooi.
OFBF, the coalition of livestock groups and other supporters have been taking ideas to Ohio lawmakers to help facilitate the drafting of the implementation legislation that will officially establish the rules by which the board will operate. As of press time, none had been introduced, but Vanderkooi said it could happen as soon as the end of January.
“The current draft version of the legislation represents the thinking of many parties involved, including the Ohio Department of Agriculture,” Vanderkooi said.
One proposed concept for funding the board is to phase in a tonnage fee increase on commercial livestock and poultry feed at the rate of 5 cents per year for three years. This would eventually raise the tonnage fee from 25 cents to 40 cents.
“In order to have a program that works, it has to be reasonably funded, with the understanding that the funding mechanism must be fair and fall under good stewardship,” Vanderkooi said. “The current proposal has not raised any major objection to my knowledge, but we look forward to the legislative process to see if other ideas come forward.”
To be determined
Among details that will be determined during the process is whether farms will be regulated and inspected on a regular, automatic basis, or if it will be complaint-driven.
Since the board is a new concept, Vanderkooi said it is not known what standards will ultimately be set. “Once introduced, the legislation is subject to change,” she said. “That’s why the board was established with such an open and transparent process. Everyone has the chance to weigh in on the process.”
Up for discussion
Included in the initial legislative proposal are:
- definitions such as what it means to be a veterinarian or humane officer serving on the board
- that members of the board will serve without compensation
- the appointing process and terms
- the duties of the board and of the Ohio Department of Agriculture
- that the board shall not set standards that establish a statewide animal identification system
- that the board be subject to any ethical standards that are already in place for similar bodies in the state
- proposals on how to fund the board.
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will set standards for livestock and poultry care that take into account issues of food safety, local availability and affordability of food and best farm management practices for animal well-being. This will be considered in the context of their impact on animal health, farm bio-security, disease prevention, food safety and food production.
The board will be chaired by the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and will be made up of 13 Ohioans, including:
Three family farmers
Two veterinarians (one of whom is the state veterinarian)
A food safety expert
A representative of a local humane society
Two members representing statewide farm organizations
The dean of an Ohio agriculture college
Two members representing Ohio consumers
Anyone interested in serving on the board must fill out an application. Eleven members will be appointed by the governor, with one family farmer being appointed by each the speaker of the House and president of the Senate.
Applications are available at www.tinyurl.com/LivestockApplication.
Once completed, the application may be submitted via U.S. mail to:
- Governor’s Office, Attn: Jared Port, Boards and Commissions, 77 S. High St., 30th Floor, Riffe Center, Columbus, OH 43215
Ohio Farm Bureau’s Center for Food and Animal Issues is available to provide further insight and information to potential board candidates. For more information, contact Center for Food and Animal Issues Vice President Mike Bumgarner at [email protected] or call 614-246-8235.
Applications for board members will be accepted until the appointment of members is announced.