There a number of reasons why Ohioans should vote “Yes” for Issue 2. It ensures safe, quality, locally grown food, strong family farms and excellent care for animals. This will be done through an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board which will provide a comprehensive, ongoing, reasonable and flexible mechanism to address animal care issues.
But some may ask, “Does this sort of thing fit in Ohio’s Constitution?”
Simply put, the answer is “Yes.”
“Advocating an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution is not something that the Ohio Farm Bureau took lightly,” said Beth Vanderkooi, OFBF director of state policy. “In fact, we did not come to the decision until after a significant amount of discussion had taken place between lawmakers, consumers, constitutional experts and farmers. Once we looked at the issue as a whole, we began to feel very strongly that the Ohio Constitution was the best place to put the Livestock Care Standards Board.”
Because Ohio’s farmers play an essential role in ensuring a safe, affordable supply of local food; in shaping the fabric of local communities; in providing jobs in both rural and urban areas; and in contributing billions of dollars to Ohio’s economy, it is right to allow Issue 2 – and the foundation it lays for preserving Ohio’s agricultural future – to be considered by all Ohio voters. In this way, state officials will know there is broad public support for Ohio’s collaborative approach to resolving animal care issues.
It is often noted that constitutional law is inflexible and hard to change as events and circumstances evolve. But Issue 2 is written to preserve flexibility by providing an ongoing mechanism for making important animal care decisions, and updating them over time as necessary.
According to Vanderkooi, the Ohio Constitution establishes about a dozen boards and commissions, including the Board of Education and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Farm Bureau believes preserving Ohio’s locally grown food supply and the livelihood of its agricultural community is of equal importance. Additionally, Farm Bureau believes public policy that so deeply impacts fundamental issues of food availability and affordability, food safety, self governance, the economy, jobs and consumer choice should be determined by a direct vote of the people.
“In the existing cases, the Constitution establishes the basic guidelines for the board or commission to function and then authorizes the General Assembly to develop more specific laws via statute. That is exactly what is being done in the case of the Livestock Care Standards Board,” Vanderkooi said.
Vanderkooi also notes that Ohio’s Constitution is more complex than the U.S. Constitution, which leaves many decisions up to the states.
“Everything from how we spend money on parks and natural resources to how we handle economic development in our state is addressed in the Ohio Constitution,” Vanderkooi said. “In Ohio, agriculture is our largest industry, and farmers use our natural resources every single day to bring us safe, affordable and locally grown food. In this sense, it is perfectly logical to put the Livestock Care Standards Board in Ohio’s Constitution, because so many related issues are already there.”