Buckeye Farm News
After holding six public listening sessions throughout the state, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is ready to talk specifics.
“We didn’t want to talk about standards before hearing from the people of Ohio,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs, the board’s chairman.
Listening sessions were well attended by a cross-section of the public from large, small, conventional, organic and other niche farmers to businesses, organizations and consumers.
Comments focused on topics such as livestock well-being, varying production practices, the extent regulation, the impracticality of one-size-fits-all standards, unintended consequences, feeding a growing population and using facts rather than emotions to determine standards.
Some comments focused solely on specific standards set forth in a ballot initiative proposed by the Humane Society of the United States, including “phasing out the most extreme confinement practices,” and “prohibiting strangulation as a form of euthanasia.”
Others urged the board to consult with experts to “find middle ground” when it comes to confinement systems.
At its June 1 meeting, the board reviewed input from the listening sessions and established ground rules for how it will function. It also approved the formation of a technical/research committee. The committee will consist of animal scientists and have subcommittees that represent individual livestock species.
Boggs said the board plans to have some standards out by early July in regards to euthanasia, downer animals and other “less complicated, more specific regulations.”
Toward August, he said, the board will start developing standards for specific breeds of animals.
Board meetings are open to the public and held every other week through the summer at the Department of Agriculture. Public comment will also be received during the meetings.
A few of the comments from the livestock care board listening sessions:
“I think there is room for all types of agriculture in standards the board will adopt. By all means…we don’t want to stifle the introduction and growth of new agricultural businesses.”
“I urge the board to avoid emotional discussions…let’s stay on facts. Don’t look 100 years back or 100 years in the future. Adopt standards that do not cause undue burden to producers and consumers. There is no right or wrong way to farm, produce food or consumer food.”
“Each animal production system has advantages and disadvantages. The well-being of an animal is based on the management provided by the farm, not the housing. Please do in-depth studies and take into account all issues at hand.”
“My concerns are about basic needs for people. There is a need for food to be accessible and affordable, and for highly nutritious food produced by Ohio farms to be made available to hungry Ohioans.”
“(Transparency) is important to me and the people I sell to. “The more transparency that can be maintained, the better.”