2010-07-28 / News

Compromise Keeps Animal Rights Issue Off Ballot

by David Pugh Buckeye Staff Writer

A deal brokered by Ted Strickland, Ohio governor, will keep a measure demanding stricter standards for the treatment of farm animals off the ballot.

The arrangement between Ohioans for Humane Farms, a coalition of animals rights groups including the Humane Society of the United States, and agriculture interests was agreed to on Wednesday, June 30.

The two sides reached the agreement on the day the animal welfare groups were to turn in petitions to put the measure on the ballot.

The agreement is a compromise in which neither side got everything it wanted.

But both sides report achieving significant goals in the negotiations.

Petition Drive

Karen Minton, former campaign manager for Ohioans For Humane Farms, and the Ohio state director of HSUS, said her side went into the negotiations with well over 550,000 signatures on its petition to put what she called “common sense standards” before Ohio voters.

Roy Norman, Ohio Farm Bureau director for Fulton, Defiance, Henry, and Williams counties, said the agriculture side had the November 2009 passage of Issue 2. The measure established the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The group is currently writing the standards that will become Ohio law.

Minton said the group’s major concern was over what it called “extreme confinement,” in which animals raised for food, such as breeding sows, veal calves, and chickens, are kept in areas so small, they practically cannot move.

“They can’t engage in their natural behaviors. It creates a fair degree of stress” which isn’t good for the animals, she said.

Norman said farmers care about the health and well being of their animals. The confinement situations allow the farmer to created a safe, healthy, controlled environment for the animals, and provide consumers with a safe, affordable, local food supply.

He said HSUS and other groups are activists “driven by the anti-meat, milk, and eggs agenda,” who cite only the worst cases of farm animal abuse.

“In agriculture you can find a few bad apples. They do not reflect farmers as a whole. It’s not the norm.

“Come to the Fulton County Fair and see what the kids do with their animal projects,” he said.

The Agreement

The items both sides agreed to:

•The phase-out, over six years, of gestation crates for breeding sows, in which sows can barely move.

•The phase-out, over six years, of veal crates, in which calves are confined.

•No new permits for egg producing operations using “battery cages,” confining egg-laying chickens in small spaces.

•The elimination of strangulation as a method to euthanize sick or injured animals.

•The banning of the transportation of sick or injured cows, known as “downer cows.” The goal of the agreement is to prevent such cattle from entering the human food chain.

In addition, Strickland agreed to sign an executive order banning the sale of wild or exotic pets, such as big cats (lions, tigers, cougars, etc.), bears, primates (monkeys, chimps, etc.), large snakes, and alligators. HSUS said Ohio was number two in the nation in the trade of such dangerous pets.

Strickland also agreed to support Senate Bill 95, which regulates dog-breeding kennels, particularly those referred to as “puppy mills.”

He also agreed to support House Bill 108, which makes cockfighting a felony in Ohio.

Minton and Norman said their sides didn’t necessarily want the animal welfare coalition’s ballot measure to go before voters.

Minton said ballot initiatives “are very costly. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, manpower, and money.”

Norman anticipated each side would spend $15 million on the campaign.

Victories

Minton said Ohioans for Humane Farms didn’t get everything it wanted, but did get the concessions on the gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages, which she called “huge wins.”

Norman said the biggest victory for the agriculture community was “for the first time in the Humane Society of the United States’ existence, they acknowledged the authority is the Livestock Care Standards Board.

“In the other 13 or 14 states where they’ve been, HSUS has been the hammer. Here, they acknowledged that the Livestock Care Standards Board is the authority. That’s precedentsetting,” he said.

In addition, the agreement brings stability to the agriculture industries.

“Now, we know what we have to work with,” Norman said.

Return to top