Policy & Politics
Issue: As people’s perspective on animals continue to change, Ohio Farm Bureau members need to discuss whether animals other than traditional farm animals should be considered agriculture in our policy as well as regulated as such. Many different types of animals are near and dear to people’s heart, so any issues involving animals tend to be emotional and the use of facts, science and data to make decisions can be difficult. Animal issues continue to evolve at all levels (national, state, county, etc), as well as in American and Ohio Farm Bureau policy. OFBF has been engaged on animal issues ranging from traditional livestock to companion animals to wild dangerous animals.
As society continues to move generations away from the farm and with new and evolving animal agriculture enterprises, the perception of what is or is not animal agriculture has become less clear. Animals are typically regarded as “livestock” or “farm animals” if they provide food or fiber or are directly involved with the production of food or fiber.
Background: OFBF policy uses terms for classification of animals that includes farm animals, livestock, farm livestock, companion animals, exotic animals, conventional, alternative and just the generic term “animal.” The use of all these terms without a clear definition of what each means leads to confusion throughout the policy book. Should these categories be better defined, narrowed, broadened, or removed
As we explore the answer to the question of how to classify animals, there are many issues to consider: Do people who own animals as a business enterprise consider themselves agriculture, even though the animals are not what we would consider traditional livestock? What types of animals should be considered agriculture? What types of animals should not be considered agriculture? Does it matter? What are the pros and cons of potentially expanding the definition of agriculture? Where do wild/dangerous animals fit on that spectrum? What about commercial dog breeding? Does it matter what particular animal is owned (pig, dog, llama, horse, etc.) or is it more important to consider how that animal is used (agriculture, pet, breeding, business, pleasure, etc.)? Can an animal typically considered a companion animal be considered part of animal agriculture depending on the use of that animal?