Ohio Farm Bureau members join Gov. Ted Strickland and state officials following the passage of HB 414.

Year in Review: Livestock board kept its authority to address animal care issues

Buckeye Farm News

Following last year’s successful Issue 2 campaign to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, Ohio Farm Bureau worked with lawmakers in 2010 to support the enabling legislation that was required for the board to begin its work. H.B. 414 determined how the board would be funded and the scope of its authority. The Ohio House and Senate approved the legislation unanimously.

But the newly appointed board was working under the cloud of a proposed ballot initiative that would override its authority and potentially drive Ohio farms out of business.

In order to avoid a divisive and expensive campaign that had an uncertain outcome, the state’s major farm organizations agreed to make recommendations to the board that they felt were acceptable ways to deal with contentious animal care issues. One of the key principles in the agreement was to protect the livestock board’s full authority to make decisions. That required the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to withdraw its ballot initiative and publicly announce its support for the board. In the end, Ohio agriculture avoided a slew of nasty political advertisements in a crowded election year, and the board went about its work with no additional mandates.

Some critics of the agreement pointed out that if the board ultimately doesn’t give HSUS what it wants, the group would return to Ohio with its ballot initiative. However, that was guaranteed to happen without the agreement. The difference now is that the board has had time to do its work and prove itself to voters. If HSUS plans to use its petition signatures in the future, it will have to keep its identical ballot language and timelines, which could become less relevant once the livestock board sets standards.

In the meantime, Ohio Farm Bureau has devoted significant staff resources to working with the board, providing veterinary and legal input on how its decisions could impact farmers – from large scale producers to youths with 4-H projects.

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