For Immediate Release
June 21, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio (OFBF) – Ohio livestock producers now have important legal protection if animals escape through no fault of the farmer with the passage and enactment of House Bill 22. The legislation, a priority issue for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), passed the Ohio House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law today by Gov. John Kasich.
HB 22 was introduced with the support of the Farm Bureau after a series of recent court decisions that opened up Ohio’s animals at large law to interpretation as a strict liability statute. HB 22 clarifies state law by establishing clear standards for civil and criminal liability and ensures that farmers whose animals escape fences and buildings through no fault of the owner do not face criminal charges. Such incidences include natural disasters, acts of weather, mischief or vandalism.
During testimony on the bill, OFBF explained that livestock farmers have a strong interest in keeping their animals contained in their fences and other enclosures. However, sometimes situations out of their control can lead to an animal getting out. OFBF cited examples of farmers being sentenced to jail time or assessed significant fines when an animal escaped through no fault of its owner. The changes in HB 22 will ensure that animal owners will continue to be civilly liable for damages if the animal gets out through a negligent act of the owner, but that criminal penalties will only apply if the owner acts in a reckless manner.
Farm Bureau thanked all members of the General Assembly and Gov. Kasich for their support. The organization also recognized the efforts of HB 22 sponsor Rep. Danny Bubp as well as House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee chairman Dave Hall and Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources committee chairman Cliff Hite. OFBF also appreciates the Ohio State Bar Association’s contributions to this important improvement in state law.
HB 22 was designated as a Farm Bureau key vote, meaning lawmakers’ votes will be considered when OFBF determines its “Friends of Agriculture” for the 129th General Assembly.
CONTACT: Joe Cornely
PHONE: (614) 246-8230 or Toll-free 800-937-4567