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Expect the worst

Published Feb. 22, 2010 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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This undercover video by the Humane Society of the United States clearly documented disturbing animal mistreatment.

Buckeye Farm News

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has announced its plan to write Ohio’s laws on livestock care.

The Ohio farm community had long expected the move from the Washington, D.C.-based HSUS, which has put forth a measure that would undermine the voter-approved Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

Rather than allow the board to have a comprehensive discussion about animal care issues, the proposal would write specific HSUS policies into the state constitution.

The measure includes components of California’s chaotic Prop 2, which HSUS successfully backed in 2008 in order to illegalize certain animal housing methods. It would also ban other uncommon and socially-unacceptable practices as part of an apparent public relations strategy to agitate voters.

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle is already taking swipes at Ohio farmers. On the group's Web site, he tied them  to cockfighting and “puppy mills” and said that they work to defend “animal strangulation” and the “abuse of downers” (sick cattle).

This portrayal of farmers is expected to be amplified through a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign that will bombard voters with horrific images of animal mistreatment for months prior to the election.

Leading animal rights and vegan organizations have aligned themselves with HSUS on the effort, including New York-based Farm Sanctuary and Mercy for Animals, which has offices in Ohio and Chicago. However, HSUS alone has a $100 million annual budget.

The groups, along with other animal and environmental organizations, are selling their initiative under the name “Ohioans for Humane Farms.”

According to OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher, HSUS is upset that the livestock care board limited the activist group's power to dictate animal care standards.

“HSUS’ latest tactic isn’t about reasonable animal care, it’s about power. Ohioans took control of the animal care issue, and HSUS doesn’t like it one bit,” he said.

HSUS has already been running tear-jerking fundraising commercials in Ohio that feature images of neglected companion animals.

In order for its measure to reach the ballot, HSUS will need to collect more than 400,000 signatures by July and has already taken steps to hire paid signature gatherers.

 Ohio Farm Bureau believes that decisions about Ohio agriculture should be made by Ohioans and that the livestock care board should be given a chance to work.

“The enabling legislation hasn’t passed; the board hasn’t been appointed and the first discussions on what standards Ohioans find acceptable hasn’t been held. And yet, the Humane Society of the United States is saying, in effect, Ohioans got it wrong,” Fisher said.

Since the passage of Issue 2, it has become evident that the creation of an Ohioan-controlled livestock care board is a direct threat to HSUS’ long-term strategy of incrementally enacting burdensome farm regulations as a way to stifle the production and consumption of meat, milk and eggs.

Ohio Farm Bureau is encouraging members to call radio stations, talk with friends and neighbors and write letters to the editor expressing opposition to the petition drive being led by “Ohioans for Humane Farms.”

“Ohioans said the care board is a reasonable way to address animal care in a broad context. We have the responsibility to provide humane treatment, but we also have the responsibility to consider animal care in the context of what’s good for people,” Fisher said.

For a packet that contains background information, talking points and the ballot language, e-mail editor@ofbf.org.

At Issue:

Will rules for farm animal care be considered by the voter-approved Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, or will they be written into the state constitution by the Humane Society of the United States?

Opposite Approaches

The proposal to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was placed on the ballot by the Ohio General Assembly.  Because it was a constitutional amendment, the language was intentionally broad. This keeps the board responsive to elected officials and ensures standards are established under the public eye and can be revised as societal needs change.

HSUS has taken steps to deploy paid signature gatherers to put an initiative on the ballot that would write its specific policies on livestock farming into the constitution.  HSUS has refused to give the livestock care board a chance to address its concerns. This has reaffirmed widespread beliefs that HSUS is more interested in throwing up roadblocks to livestock farming than engaging in a serious discussion about animal care.



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