REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (OFBF) – Ohio is serious about the care and treatment of its livestock, and the voter-approved Livestock Care Standards Board is the authority on the issue in the state.
That’s part of the message Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) delivered Tuesday morning to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB).
“We recognize the vote of the citizens of Ohio on (2009 ballot) Issue 2 and recognize the authority of the livestock board,” Pacelle said during the public comment session of the meeting.
Just a few months ago, both HSUS and Ohio agriculture were preparing for what was sure to be a costly and bitter ballot fight on livestock care this November. When both sides of the issue sat down at the table with Gov. Ted Strickland in late June and reached an agreement to keep the contentious issue off the ballot, the terms of the debate changed.
Pacelle reflected upon the agreement in his comments, calling it “a good faith effort to figure out a pathway forward for all of us that prevents millions of dollars being spent on both sides, and a loser on one side.”
“(Through the OLCSB), there is the possibility of both sides winning,” he said.
He acknowledged that both sides gave a lot in the deal, but that in the end, it provided rationale for farmers while providing a potential path forward on the issue.
He said he has no quarrels with recognizing the authority of the board.
“Finding common ground, and getting there, is important,” he said, but noted that coming to terms on pig and egg production will prove to be most difficult.
“The livestock care board is a novel structure to address an increasingly complex set of issues,” he told the board members. “You have in your power the ability to solve these issues. It is good business to elevate animal welfare in the discussion. I think you all are at the forefront of it.”
Still, Pacelle indicated that such an agreement was rare and that HSUS will not fade away.
“We will not passively sit by and watch you deliberate,” he said. “We want to see this succeed… but we are committed to go pushing ahead if we really have a lapse in this (agreement).”
Charles Wildman, a hog producer and Clark County Farm Bureau member, followed Pacelle in public comment. He said he appreciated Pacelle’s comments, but thinks many “are based on philosophy, not necessarily science.”
“I don’t see where science is effective in measuring philosophical things,” he said. “I care very deeply about my animals. I really hope we can move this situation forward for the American consumers and increase their confidence and safety.”
The board spent a significant portion of the meeting revising draft rules for livestock euthanasia. Members also reviewed a draft of civil penalties that would be enforced under the board’s authority. Both items may be ready for a vote in early September.